- The Washington Times - Saturday, April 2, 2016

DENVER—One of Colorado’s top marijuana businesses wants to keep the “high” in the Denver Broncos’ Mile High Stadium.

Native Roots, which operates 14 medical and recreational dispensaries in Colorado, is prepared to make an offer for the naming rights of the NFL team’s stadium, now called Sports Authority Field at Mile High.

“We may breathe green but we bleed orange,” said Josh Ginsberg, CEO of Native Roots, in a press release. “Just like John Denver so memorably sang in ‘Rocky Mountain High,’ it only makes sense that the company which gains the new naming rights of Mile High be reflective of Colorado.”

The announcement that the company has “begun the process of acquiring the naming rights” came on April Fool’s Day, but “this is not an April Fool’s joke,” said Native Roots founding partner Rhett Jordan.

“We have a ton of pride in the Broncos, we’re a large corporation in Colorado,” Mr. Jordan told TV station KMGH-7, the local ABC affiliate.

Sports Authority has a contract with the Denver Broncos for the next four years, but the company declared bankruptcy March 2, leading to questions over whether it would be able to make its next $6 million payment in August.

“We’re just preparing for if they do [default],” Mr. Jordan told the city’s CBS affiliate, KCNC-4. “We’re always on the cutting edge of everything in the state of Colorado, we’ve always been huge fans of the Broncos, and we felt like this was an opportunity to bring two brilliant brands together.”

The company would like to see the arena renamed “Native Roots Stadium at Mile High.” The multimillion-dollar commitment is no obstacle, said Mr. Jordan, although state law restricting outdoor advertising on marijuana dispensaries could present a problem.

Marijuana use is prohibited under federal law, and it’s also a banned substance for NFL players.

The Denver Broncos released a statement Friday expressing confidence in Sports Authority’s ability to continue as the owner of the stadium’s naming rights.”

Sports Authority has been a great partner for many years and we certainly hope to keep it that way,” said the statement.

Comments by fans on social media show that most would prefer to see the arena called Mile High Stadium, with no corporate name. In terms of propriety, pot fans have pointed out that nearby Coors Field, the home of MLB’s Colorado Rockies, bears the name of a beer, although it’s also the name of the prominent Coors family of Golden, Colorado.

Colorado was the first state to unveil a regulated recreational-marijuana market for adults 21 and over after voters approved a legalization measure on the November 2012 ballot.

• Valerie Richardson can be reached at vrichardson@washingtontimes.com.

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