Commerce City, Col. - It was October 17, 1995 when the Colorado Rapids were introduced as a charter member of Major League Soccer. On April 21, 1996, the Rapids defeated Dallas 3-1 in the team’s first ever home game at the old Mile High Stadium.
Since that first year, the Rapids have seen hundreds of players wear the jersey; have had six coaches roam the sidelines; called three stadiums home; and had three uniform color changes. Amidst the changes, there have been 37 constants: the die-hard Rapids fans who have held season tickets for each of the seasons since the team debuted.[inline_node:95249]
Last Saturday, the Rapids kicked off their 15th season at home with a tribute to these fantastic supporters. Each 15-year season ticket holder received a personalized jersey during a halftime presentation.
As they met on the concourse before the halftime ceremony, they interacted with each other and shared stories of their 15 years of passionately following the team.
Andy Fedorowicz, who was the first fan in 1996 to purchase Colorado Rapids season tickets, spoke for many long-time fans when he reminisced about Chris Henderson scissor kick goal to win the Western Conference Championship in ’97 and send the team to the MLS Cup Championship Game.
Another long-held memory for 15-year supporters was Marcelo Balboa’s bicycle kick goal, which fan Michael Beck-Gifford described as, “the type of play that only happens on rare occasions such as World Cup play.”
One long-time Rapids fan, in particular, holds a special place in the history of American soccer. Dr. Bob Contiguglia, the former President of the U.S. Soccer Federation, has been a strong supporter of the club since its inception in 1996. Contiguglia and his family have been regulars in the stands, and were among those honored on Saturday.
Many of the original season ticket holders have seen their families grow since 1996, and now include future generations of Rapids fans. Mike Armbruster recently became the proud father of a new baby boy, whom he and his wife fondly named, Conor, after Rapids forward Conor Casey.
John Fitzsimmons, who in the late 90’s worked in the team’s front office and still kept his season tickets, told us that his two boys are lifelong fans.
“I’ve got two here, one is 6 and one is 9,” said Fitzsimmons. “They’ve been here (at the stadium) for all of their years alive.”
The Colorado Rapids once again thank all the fans that have supported the club throughout the years.
The following is a list of the 15 year season ticket holders: Bill Airsman, Mike Armbruster, Pete Barrett, Michael Beck-Gifford, Jim Behrens, Kevin Benham, Bryan Blakely, Charles Bloomfield, Tim Brackett, Robert Burkhardt, Robert Contiguglia, Jim & Rita Mae Coppock, Nancy Dawdy, Anselm Dines, Cliff Enten, Andy Fedorowicz, John Fitzsimmons, Sid Huddleston, Sarah Kneefel, Rebecca Leibman, Bill May, Felipe Nava, Dan Needham, Jim Petri, Ty Pippin, Deb Pottenger (Forest Oil LLC), Philippe Reisacher, Kurt Ronsen, Larry Shafer, Leslie Smith, William Solomon, Barb Steinert, Janice Wagner, Bill Baker and Guillermo Munoz.