Pepsi Center at 20: Kyle Keefe's memories
Sunday marked the 20th anniversary of the Colorado Avalanche's first-ever game at Pepsi Center, a 2-1 win against the Boston Bruins on Oct. 13, 1999.
Altitude Sports' Kyle Keefe has been around for all of it since the doors first opened and recalls some of his memories at the Avs' home arena on Chopper Circle.
The Pepsi Center has already been around for 20 years. That must mean I just turned 33.
Ok, maybe not, but it does make me feel old as I've been there for just about every waking moment of it. Dead serious, I've been there since Pepsi Center was born.
I was actually the person who traveled from McNichols Arena to Brooklyn's restaurant twice a week to change the film on the time-lapse video of Pepsi Center during its construction. No joke. Rain, snow or sunshine, I was there twice a week to change the film on a camera that caught every moment. So I guess you could say I witnessed the birth of one of the greatest venues in North America.
What stands out to me? Well, let's not play any games - Joe Sakic handing the Stanley Cup, the holy grail of hockey, over to Ray Bourque. I was there, on the ice, in the penalty box, watching from 50 feet away.
Tears? Yes, a lot of them. Followed by a lot of champagne. I was also an eyewitness to Shjon Podein, partying it up into the late hours of the night wearing his entire uniform - including skates - celebrating the Stanley Cup win.
After goaltender Craig Anderson had a 51-save shutout against the San Jose Sharks in the 2010 Stanley Cup Playoffs and the crowd followed the Tommy Boy cue of "I swear I've seen a lot of stuff in my life…BUT…THAT…WAS…AWESOME!" I was there, standing right next to him.
I saw the Denver Nuggets' Jamal Murray hit a game-winning bucket from the front row at Pepsi Center, and I've been tackled by colleague Vic Lombardi to the Pepsi Center floor. I've seen Maroon 5, Metallica, Dave Matthews, Taylor Swift, Garth Brooks, Billy Joel, Bruce Springsteen and Coldplay rip the roof off this house. I've seen the Ice Capades, Cirque du Soleil, Michelle Obama and the Democratic National Convention come to Pepsi Center.
I was there for the Colorado Crush and Colorado Mammoth's first seasons. Heck, I even hired the models from Donna Baldwin Agency to sit in the ever-popular "Hot Tub" in the corner of the arena!
I've also seen a lot of very good people come and go in my 23 years with the company. I've seen the dedication, sweat and tears of a lot of employees and fans who have stuck with us through the good times and the bad. You see, it's not just about the moments we see, it's the love and emotion that we have created together that makes this such a historical day.
Twenty years of moments, but a lifetime of memories. I'm proud to say that I've been a part of them and can't wait for the next one.