Campus & Community / DU History / History

Stadium Inn: DU’s favorite dive

In the 1950s, graduating Stadium Inn regulars received a “degree” from the establishment, conferring them with a “Bachelor of Suds, Master of Malts, Doctor of Hops.” Photo: Michael Richmond

Unlike nouveau sports bars that morph into sushi bars, the Stadium Inn at 1701 E. Evans Ave. faces the future by embracing the past.

Parked in a section of the DU neighborhood where a fast-food crowd comes to slurp noodles or create zeppelin-sized burritos, it is a relic from a time when beer was a rite of passage — the forbidden elixir of adulthood.

The Stadium Inn emerged in the early 1940s and was a hit with fans of DU football — a leather-helmeted squad the sportswriters dubbed “the Fighting Parsons.” Before it was a bar, the Stadium’s corner location was a drugstore, says current proprietor Jordan Saliman, whose late father bought the watering hole in 1977.

Only once was the varsity nostalgia train derailed: In 1947, returning veterans, white and black, actively rebelled against the Inn’s segregation policy. Their protest worked. While most establishments refused to cater to mixed audiences in those days, the Stadium Inn became one of Denver’s first to end the practice, choosing Old Crow over Jim Crow.

“The Stadium Inn was a good meeting place for students on a low budget,” recalls Raymond Records, BS ’56. “About 5 p.m., students began to filter in for 25-cent beer and snack food. Some would dance to the elderly jukebox.”

Time ran out on DU football in 1960, but the hockey crowd kept the taps flowing at the Stadium Inn long after the arena it was named for was gone. That “crowd” included more than fans on game day. Says one anonymous Pioneers player, “After Murray Armstrong put us through a tough practice, we would sneak in the back door, hide our letter jackets under the table and have a few cold ones served by none other than ‘Big Ed.'”

By the 1970s, the Inn’s clientele had shifted from student to biker, and new owner Maurice Saliman decided the Stadium Inn needed to embrace its roots. “He wanted to cultivate a reputation that was safe and comfortable for students to come socialize,” Jordan Saliman says. “There was an educational process with a bar around the University, teaching students what it means to be over 21, have dignity and be in a safe environment.”

Quickly, it was out with the biker gear and back in with the pennants and jerseys. It was a welcome change. “I can remember going into the Stadium Inn 21 consecutive nights during my senior year,” says Michael Acosta, BA ’92. “Being close to campus, I never had to worry about driving after one too many. Other places near campus were the place to see and be seen, but the Stadium Inn was the place to hang out with friends, talk about things and relax. Most nights, we waited for the bartenders to turn the lights on and off and the barmaids to shout ‘Get the f–k out!'”

In a recent review, Denver Post writer Ricardo Baca confirmed the ambience of the Inn, which is open from 9 a.m. to 2 a.m. seven days a week. “Imbibing at the Stadium is more like being at your buddy’s house than a bar,” he wrote.

Saliman has no plans to meddle with the magic his father rediscovered. He keeps the promotions going, giving away tickets to DU sporting events, and points with pride at special celebrations such as graduation day, when “grads and dads” can depend on an early happy hour to help them through the ceremony.

“Nostalgia never goes out of style,” he says. “National chains come and go, but the University community and family always comes back. They like to see their initials carved in the bathroom wall.”

Comments are closed.