Bears Stadium was located at 2755 West 17th Avenue, in Denver, Colorado. Constructed in 1947, the ballpark was the home of the Western Association Denver Bears beginning in 1948. From 1949 to 1951, the Bears were an affiliate of the Boston Braves, and from 1952 to 1954, they were an affiliate of the Pittsburgh Pirates. In 1955, the Bears joined the American Association, where the team remained through the 1992 season, with the exception of 1963 to 1968 when the team played in the Pacific League.
The team’s major league affiliation changed every few years, beginning with the New York Yankees from 1956 to 1958, the Detroit Tigers from 1960 to 1962, the Milwaukee Braves from 1963 to 1964, the Minnesota Twins from 1965 to 1969, the Washington Senators from 1970 to 1971, the Texas Rangers in 1972 and 1982, the Houston Astros from 1973 to 1974, the Chicago White Sox in 1975 and from 1983 to 1984, the Montreal Expos from 1976 to 1981, the Cincinnati Reds from 1986 to 1987, and the Milwaukee Brewers from 1988 to 1992. In 1984, the team changed its name to the Denver Zephyrs in honor of a passenger train of the same name that ran between Chicago, Illinois, and Denver, Colorado, beginning in the 1930s. In 1993, with the arrival of the Major League Colorado Rockies, the Zephyrs moved to New Orleans, Louisiana.
Beginning in 1960 the ballpark was expanded with additional bleacher seating to house fans of the American Football League Denver Broncos.
In 1968, the City of Denver purchased the ballpark, added portions of an upper deck, and renamed the venue Mile High Stadium. In 1970, the Broncos joined the National Football League. Additional seats were added during the 1970s, including a section in left field that could be moved to accommodate either baseball or football.
In 1993, the MLB expansion Colorado Rockies began play at Mile High Stadium. That season the Rockies set the all-time MLB home attendance record of 4,483,350.
In 1996, the Rockies moved two miles northeast of Mile High Stadium to the newly constructed Coors Field, leaving the Broncos as the sole permanent tenant of Mile High Stadium.
The Broncos played at Mile High Stadium through the 2000 season. In 2001 the team moved to newly constructed Invesco Field at Mile High, which was built adjacent to Mile High Stadium, directly to the south.
In 2012, the football stadium was renamed Sports Authority Field at Mile High.
A plaque located in the north parking lot of Sports Authority Field commemorates the history of Bears Stadium and Mile High Stadium.
Placed there by the Society for American Baseball Research and the Colorado Rockies, the plaque reads:
“As you look to the north from this spot you are viewing the land upon which stood Bears Stadium. From 1948 to 1994, it was the home of professional baseball in Denver. The Denver Bears (later renamed the Zephyrs in 1985) played at Bears Stadium (later renamed Mile High Stadium) through 1992. When Major League Baseball arrived in Denver in 1993, Mile High Stadium housed the Colorado Rockies for two seasons until Coors Field was completed in 1995. The precise location of home plate is indicated by a commemorative landmark approximately 500 ft. to the north of this plaque.”
A grass berm sits along the north and west side of the parking lot. That area is where the first and third base grandstand of Bears Stadium once stood.
One additional landmark at the site is the former Hotel VQ, which is located at 1975 Mile High Stadium Circle just beyond the former site of left field. Built in 1982, the building is being converted to micro apartments.
For almost half a century, baseball was played in what is now the north parking lot of Stadium Authority Field. Thanks to SABR and the Colorado Rockies, the site is well marked and certainly worth a visit. Many thanks to Jason Papka for providing the recent pictures of the site.