DU History / History

Hilltop Stadium opened in 1926

Hilltop Stadium circa 1926

On Oct. 2, 1926, the University of Denver football team stepped onto the gridiron of Hilltop Stadium for the first time, achieving a 27-7 victory over archrival Colorado School of Mines. With room for up to 25,000 fans, the new stadium far surpassed the makeshift field at University Park — where Buchtel Boulevard now runs — and its 10,000 capacity grandstand, which had served as the Pioneers’ stomping ground since 1909. Hilltop’s construction was made possible by DU alumni, who raised funds through a bond drive, whereby bonds would be repaid with stadium revenue. The stadium hosted many events, including a 1927 victory parade for aviator Charles Lindbergh and the historic Aug. 5, 1967, football game when the Denver Broncos became the first AFL team to defeat a NFL team, the Detroit Lions. In the end, Hilltop Stadium would survive DU’s football program — which was canceled in 1961 — by a decade. Although Hilltop was demolished in 1971, athletic competitions still take place on the hallowed ground where it once stood, with Division I Pioneers athletes taking the court and pitch at the Stapleton Tennis Pavilion and CIBER Field.


  1. I would have liked to be their in 1926 to see the Stadium and the people of Denver. I was their in 1967, playing in the game against the Detroit Lions, shaking up the NFL and the AFL.
    Thank you!

    • I would have liked to have been ‘there’ to see the Stadium just off of I-25 [Valley Highway] and the people of Denver just before the start of the Great Depression. I was ‘there’ in 1967 playing in the game with the Detroit Lions, shaking up the NFL and AFL for a while.
      Thank you for the ‘peek’.

  2. I remember you and listening to that football game with Detroit on the radio. That’s the game where Alex Karras said he would walk back to Detroit if they lost the football game because that would have been the first time and the AFL team beat an NFL team. Thanks for being a Bronco

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