Budweiser Center

The Budweiser Events Center, affectionately nicknamed The Keg, is considered a crown jewel of Northern Colorado less than three years after it opened.

Located at the newLarimer County Fairgrounds, the arena attracts people region-wide to events ranging from religious conventions to professional wrestling.

Home to the Central Hockey League’s Colorado Eagles and the Colorado Chill of the National Women’s Basketball League, the Budweiser Center has also brought a wide variety of musical acts to the area: Kenny Rodgers, Nelly, matchbox twenty, Rod Stewart, Snoop Dog and Motley Crue.

When the 7,200-seat venue opened in September 2003, skeptics wondered if such a building could survive so close to Denver.

From its opening event – a sellout show featuring comedian Bill Cosby – the facility has proven doubters wrong.

“We have had an incredibly successful run,´ said Rick Hontz, general manager of the Budweiser Event Center. “We just celebrated our second anniversary and we expected the honeymoon period to end and it hasn’t.”

The arena’s presence has also spurred development in the immediate area around the junction of Interstate 25 and Crossroads Boulevard, including plans for a hotel-convention center in the vicinity.

Events at the center are considered a Northern Colorado affair. Eagles hockey games are a meeting place for old friends and potential business partners.

“I think in the first year, we were new and (the sponsors) took a chance with us,´ said Ralph Backstrom, president and owner of the Eagles. “I think after year No. 1 we proved to them that the hockey was really good hockey.

The Eagles have lined up 106 corporate sponsors, contributing amounts ranging from $1,000 to $113,000 per season. In return, sponsor names are splashed on dasher boards, on the ice, on banners around the arena and on Jumbotron commercials.

The team consistently sold out the Budweiser Center’s 5,289 seats for hockey during its 40 home games, including the regular season and the playoffs. The team makes 4,400 season ticket seats available and the waiting list is 700 long.

Venues Today, an industry trade publication, ranked the Budweiser Event Center 11th in the nation in venues with a seating capacity of 5,001 to 10,000, based on total gross and attendance for non-tenant events from Nov. 16, 2004 to May 15, 2005. In that period, the Budweiser Center grossed $2.34 million drawing 72,793 attendees to 22 events.