As the final horn signaled on Thursday to sound the end of the Broncos’ 2012 training camp, the last group of fans that watched the team’s practices this summer headed for the exits.
A total of 84,380 fans took in the team’s 16 practices that were open to the public during camp, by far the most that have ever watched Broncos training camp.
The total attendance in 2012 nearly doubled the previous record of 45,124 that was set last season when there were 18 practices open to fans.
Fans’ presence not only helps give the players an extra shot of energy as they grind through the padded practices, but also helps them prepare for in-game atmospheres.
“It has been nice to get you through some of those dog days, you can feed off their energy a little bit,” wide receiver Eric Decker said. “They will be missed because it’s always nice to have support here.”
For fans, training camp offers a unique opportunity to get up close and personal with their favorite players.
“It’s awesome,” said Corey Fuller from Littleton, who watched his second practice of the year on Thursday. “You can’t get this close at the games.”
The Broncos averaged 2,872 fans for each full practice at Dove Valley this year, again nearly doubling the previous record of 1,597 that was set in 2011.
The Broncos attracted more than 4,000 fans to Dove Valley on five occasions, including a total of 5,034 fans on Aug. 2 that represented the largest crowd in the 10 seasons the club has held training camp at its training facility. On six instances in 2012, the crowd total surpassed the previous record of 3,103 fans set on Aug. 1, 2010.
Additionally, a record crowd of 41,304 fans attended the Broncos’ Summer Scrimmage at Sports Authority Field at Mile High on Aug. 4 — the second-highest attendance total for a training camp practice in the NFL this year.
While some fans are disappointed to see the open practices end, that means that the team’s regular-season opener is just around the corner.
“The practices are cool to get to,” Brian Smith from Castle Rock said. “But to get to the live action and to get to people being able to hit other people versus our own guys, I think is a lot more fun to watch. We’ll get to throw the ball around a little bit, get to run the ball a little bit. I think we’re anxious for the season to get started.”