Convention center makeover


Pepsi Center owner Stan Kroenke will hand over the arena keys to the Democrats in the summer of 2008 and let the political party do some serious redecorating.

In preparation for the Democratic National Convention, they will likely yank out lower-level seats, knock down luxury suite walls, haul in massive amounts of steel to reinforce the ceiling, erect a huge building in a parking lot to accommodate the media, and bring in new technology and miles of wire and cable.

Then, once the spectacle is over, the presidential hopeful has left the building and Denver’s time in the international spotlight is up, they’ll swiftly restore the home of the Denver Nuggets and the Colorado Avalanche to the way it was before.

All in 10 weeks. The estimated cost: at least $15 million.

“It’s a monster,” said Dave Jolette, the Pepsi Center’s vice president and general manager of arena operations.

Talk to John Wentzell, president of Boston’s TD Banknorth Garden, and the magnitude of the project comes into focus.

His arena, formerly the FleetCenter, hosted the 2004 Democratic National Convention.

“It is like no other event from a standpoint of time commitment and cost,” he said.

The construction expense to the Democrats in 2004 easily surged past the $10 million mark, Wentzell estimated. This time, the price tag should be higher.

“And the irony of it all,” he said, “is that there’s many, many millions of dollars of construction, all for temporary use.”

One benefit to an arena hosting the event — and the corporation paying for naming rights — is exposure. News reports around the world will repeat the Pepsi Center name thousands of times.

Wentzell said the 2004 convention also was a golden opportunity to help the Boston area.

“We were glad to be participants,” he said.

There was a down side, however. The convention had a negative financial impact on the Boston facility, he said. Even though summers are typically slow, following the basketball and hockey seasons, the sum the TD Banknorth Garden received based on its contract with the Democrats was not as much as the revenue it would have reeled in otherwise, he said.

Not to mention the fact that tearing the arena apart and rebuilding it is “very taxing on your staff and on your facility,” he said. “There’s no way of avoiding that. It’s extremely demanding.”

(Contact James Paton of the Rocky Mountain News at