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.

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