Commerce City, Colo. - "Mountain Roads, Take Me Home, To The Place I Belong, COLORADO, See The Rapids, Take Me Home, Mountain Roads."
That's what the massive tifo read that the supporters lowered onto the north Terrace of Dick's Sporting Goods Park on Saturday prior to the Rapids home win over rivals Real Salt Lake. It was undoubtedly the largest fan-created sign in the short history of the stadium, topping the one created ahead of the same match last season and 2012 season opener.
"We have been thinking about doing something big for RSL all year," Pid Army supporters group president Dave Cleland told ColoradoRapids.com by email. "It was important to us to do something special for this game. Knowing we had already lost the (Subaru Rocky Mountain) Cup in the two away matches, we wanted to give people something special to look forward to and to get fans in the stadium really excited before the game. This set the bar very high, but we like to push ourselves. This is what tifo is really about!"
Fellow Pid Army member Oscar Mejia took the lead in creating and overseeing the production of the banner, but the idea of how it should look and what it should say came from an unused scarf design created by Army member Dylan Maxwell. The phrase and chant are derived from John Denver's song, Country Road.
Using funds collected from member donations and merchandise fundraisers, the group purchased over 4,000 feet of plastic table rolls, which were 40 inches wide by 100, 200, and 350 feet long. As supplies were late to arrive, the task of putting the banner together took 20 people working for four consecutive days and nights in a warehouse, where they taped the rolls together, outlined the words, and then also taped the massive letters on. The final product was finished at 4 am on the day of the match.
The group then worked with the Rapids gameday entertainment crew and Dick's Sporting Goods Park event staff to bring the tifo - which measured 210 x 30 feet - into the stadium on Saturday afternoon. After lineups were announced, the fans lowered the Terrace-wide display from under the scoreboard to other fans below, drawing oohs and aahs throughout the stadium
As Cleland explained, the group hasn't decided if they'll use the 6300 square foot banner again.
"Typically special tifo is used once to maximize impact," he said. "We had hoped to do some more things on this and ran out of time, so it is possible we might want to finish what we had planned on doing and use it one more time. We'll see."
While not going into detail, Cleland also says that a bigger project could be in the works.
"We have some ideas for more projects in the future, of course, as we never stop thinking about this stuff," Cleland added. "We'd better give our guys a break for a few weeks, though, so they don't lose their jobs or get kicked out of the house!"