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A search for the best NFL-themed fan caves yielded a list of the nation’s top 10, including this Broncos fan basement room in Westminster.

A story featuring the top 10 NFL-inspired basement fan caves has captured the intersection of America’s pigskin obsession and home decor. Talk about fantasy football. These underground game rooms are theme rooms on muscle boosters.

“They are a fun place to show off memorabilia like signed jerseys, ticket stubs, game balls and, of course, to watch games on a big screen,” said Tim Tracy, national sales trainer for Groundworks, a leading foundation solutions company that led the initiative to find the best fan caves.

“Our inspectors get to go into a lot of cool basements,” said Tracy, whose company has 40 offices. “During COVID, they noticed a big uptick in fan caves as stadiums sat empty and more sports lovers watched games from their homes. That prompted us to scour the internet to find the best of the best.”

One of them belongs to Denver Broncos fan Devin Hayes of Westminster. A Colorado native, Hayes, 41, who works in sales for a tax resolution firm, has been a Broncos fan since birth, he said. From early on, he watched games with his grandfather, a season ticket holder since 1963.

When he and his wife moved into their home five years ago, he started decking out his fan cave “the minute we got the boxes unpacked.” Today, Broncos blue and orange cover every inch of Hayes’ 250-square-foot, subterranean fan cave. He nailed the wall color by having paint mixed at Lowe’s, which has the license for the NFL paint colors.

His brother, who’s in the carpet business, helped Hayes score a piece of the plush orange carpet that players walked on during the Super Bowl 50 ring ceremony. “Then he laid it in the room for me,” Hayes said.

As for what his wife has to say about the basement- turned-Broncos shrine, Hayes said, “She says it’s OK because it’s below sight level. Seriously, she’s been very accommodating and even helped me paint.”

The cave’s furniture includes two Broncos chairs, a reclining sofa, a 55-inch smart TV with surround sound and display cases to show off memorabilia. His favorites include an autographed jersey from Hall of Fame running back Terrell Davis and an autographed football from legendary linebacker Karl Mecklenburg. Pennants and flags hang from the ceiling. He dedicated one wall to Hall of Fame quarterback John Elway.

And he’s not done.

Next, he plans to take down a wall and enlarge the space so it can house more of his collection.

“I have a lot of game-day magazines and more flags and pennants. It’s a work in progress,” he said.

Meanwhile, this time of year, you know where to find him Sundays.

“You can’t get me out of there until football is over,” he said. “I go in about 10:30 in the morning, after my chores, and don’t come out until 9 at night.”

For others who have a bad case of football fever, here’s what Tracy and Hayes say to consider when creating a fan cave:

• The place. Basements ranked first in a Groundworks survey of 1,507 men that asked where they would most like to have a fan cave. Garages came in second, followed by spare rooms, outbuildings or sheds, and attics.

• Waterproofing. If you’re going underground with a fan cave, be sure to have the space inspected for leaks and moisture levels, said Tracy, whose company specializes in foundation repair and basement waterproofing. A sound moisture barrier and a dehumidifying system will not only protect the investment, including all that sports swag, but will also ward off that funky damp basement smell. If the fan cave is in a garage, shed or attic, make sure it’s insulated and temperature-controlled so heat and weather don’t damage the memorabilia.

• A giant screen with surround sound. “Because if you want to feel immersed in the game, you need both,” Tracy said. Some caves even boast multiple screens.

• Great seating. It’s important to have big cushy bench seating that reclines.

• A bar. Install a cooler, a keg, a stocked refrigerator or a built-in bar so no one has to go upstairs for a beer.

• Memorabilia and atmosphere. One fan cave in Chicago starts playing the Bears’ fight song and starts flashing multicolored with the voice command “Bear down.” But memorabilia make the cave. These rooms pile on the autographed footballs and jerseys; pennants, programs and posters; ticket stubs, team hats, decals and more. And the best of them do so with style.

Marni Jameson is the author of six home and lifestyle books, including “Downsizing the Family Home – What to Save, What to Let Go.” Reach her at marnijameson.com.

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