Going to a Denver Broncos game is an amazing experience. All the sights and sounds of being part of an NFL game are thrilling. But the game day fun isn’t confined to the action taking place inside the stadium.

There’s plenty to see and do outside the stadium before the game even starts, and none of it even requires a ticket or an entry fee.

Here are five reasons you’ll want to arrive early to Broncos Stadium at Mile High.

Barrel Man Statue

The Barrel Man statue outside of the Mile High Monument. (Photo by Terry Terrones)

1. Miniature Mile High – The Mile High Monument, a miniaturized version of Mile High Stadium, sits in parking lot J on the northwest side of Broncos Stadium. Inside, fans can sit in one of the 165 original seats from Mile High and take a peek at the mini Bucky the Bronco on top of the scoreboard. Outside of it is a statue of legendary Broncos fan, The Barrel Man. At 1/8 of the original stadium’s size, it makes for a great photo op and is a unique journey back in time to the glory days of the Orange Crush. The monument is free to visit and opens 30 minutes after main parking lots open to the public.

2. An artist’s vision of football – After visiting the Mile High Monument, slide over to the north side of the stadium and check out the three Pigskin Variations sculptures. Created by Massachusetts artists and hopefully not Patriots fans Ralph Helmick and Stuart Schecter, these three statues made of bronze and Colorado sandstone offer alternative takes on pro football. The blend of art and sports is a powerful one.

Stampede

Alex Woodworth, 6, left, of Colorado Springs tries his hand at the drums after Chris Dighero of Thornton hands him the sticks as the Broncos Stampede performs for tailgaters. (Photo by Dougal Brownlie)

3. The musical stylings of the Stampede – The Denver Broncos Stampede, a drum line and brass ensemble, is sure to bowl you over with its high-energy performance. The group, which performs on the field before home games, can be seen pre-game outside at the south part of the stadium. It also bounces around different tailgating areas, so you’ll have to keep an eye (or ear) out for them. The Stampede's passionate play and enthusiasm is contagious.

4. Go to the Mall – If you’re looking to get hyped for the game in a family-friendly atmosphere, the Sports Legends Mall is the place to be. Located on the south side of the stadium, this football-shaped grass field is jam-packed with themed events. You can try tossing a football through a tire, play corn hole, or listen to local bands while grabbing something to eat and drink. I’d highly recommend going to the UCHealth booth, where you can get tested for Broncos Fever. A simple cheer for the home team leads to some free swag, which will give you a Vitamin B boost.

5. Take in some Broncos history – Longtime Broncos fans are certain to feel the nostalgia at Ring of Fame Plaza. Located at the south part of the stadium, this is where the team honors the 32 members of the illustrious Broncos Ring of Fame. Greats like Rick Upchurch, Karl Mecklenburg and Terrell Davis are immortalized in eight-foot tall steel monuments. It’s a nice look at the history of the franchise.

Terry is a journalist for The Gazette. He's a graduate of the University of Denver, loves the Denver Broncos, and is a member of the Television Critics Association and Critics Choice Association.

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