Analysts say expanding Denver venues will boost tourism

Photo: National Western Stock Show
Bullriding is just one of the events at the National Western Stock Show held in Denver every January.

Denver should make major improvements to the National Western Stock Show complex, Denver Coliseum and the Colorado Convention Center, according to the results of a feasibility study released Tuesday.

City leaders say the projects would create businesses and draw more tourists to town.

“Denver needs to think holistically about its current facilities to continue growing our convention and tourism business,” Denver Mayor Michael Hancock says. “The recommendations made by the study could help strengthen Denver’s position as a global city as well as a desired convention destination that would generate local and regional job growth for years to come.”

Officials with the stock show considered moving to Aurora but then committed to Denver in 2012. The city commissioned the feasibility study to look at ways to replace outdated buildings and expand the National Western to create a year-round attraction at its current site.

CU-Denver history professor Tom Noel, author of a book on the 108-year-old stock show, says Denver should do what it can to keep the National Western Stock Show.

"It really distinguishes Denver from a lot of other cities," Noel says. "Many other cities have lost their stock show and stockyards like Chicago, San Francisco and Los Angeles. So we’re really lucky to have it, and it still attracts 600,000 people a year in January, so it’s a magnificent draw for the city of Denver."

The study suggests expanding the convention center to keep pace with the competition nationally, and it recommends replacing the 62-year-old coliseum with a new arena.

An advisory panel will now review the study. Ways to pay for the improvements have not been identified.

“The National Western Stock Show is part of Denver’s culture and part of the Globeville, Elyria and Swansea neighborhoods,” City Council member Judy Montero says. “I am excited that the city is committed to creating a master plan with the help of residents.”