Oral history of John Benitez
Description of content: Denver’s civic leaders were eager to bring Major League Baseball to Colorado. An opportunity came when the National League received permission to expand. Officials made clear that a baseball-only stadium was a requirement for consideration as a candidate for an expansion team. The quest to fund a Denver stadium was on.
In 1988 voters approved a one tenth of one cent tax to support arts and culture. Baseball boosters crafted similar legislation creating a funding mechanism for the new stadium. Tireless legislators worked to get the bill passed while members of the Colorado Baseball Commission and a 1990 “Time Zone Without a Team” public campaign persuaded voters to support the stadium tax. It passed by 54%.
Key players in the stadium funding drive moved on to put together a team ownership group and develop a presentation for the National League Expansion Committee. Competition for the two expansion teams was stiff. A season ticket drive was launched to demonstrate community commitment and the governors of six surrounding states sent letters supporting Denver’s bid.
Welcomed by hundreds of fans singing “Take Me Out to the Ball Game”, the expansion committee visited Denver in March1991. Three months later, National League President Bill White announced that Denver had been awarded one of the expansion franchises. Colorado Rockies was selected as the team name reflecting support well beyond Denver. The Rockies played their first game on April 5, 1993.
These oral histories are with people instrumental in bringing the Rockies to Colorado. Benitez was CBC Legal Counsel.
Physical description: one digital video file, 7 minutes in length. Available on YouTube.
Oral history of John Benitez, 2018.117.17. History Colorado, Denver, Colo.