DENVER — Hundreds of Super Bowl parties fizzled Sunday night as Bronco fans were forced to accept their team's 39-20 defeat at the hands of the New York Giants.
Anticipating raucous victory celebrations around the city, Denver police had beefed up evening patrols, but the move proved unnecessary.
"We brought in about 70 extra officers in addition to our full complement," said Lt. Robert Cantwell, the city's shift commander.
"During the game was quiet, probably one of the quietest days we've ever had. After the game we've had a few minor incidents, people who have obviously been drinking too much."
With Broncomania crushed by the passing accuracy of Giant quarterback Phil Simms, the Super Bowl MVP, the city was subdued.
"A few officers are going to go home early," Cantwell said. "A few others we'll hold until midnight."
Television lights buoyed the spirits of a few diehard Bronco fans at the Hyatt Regency Denver Tech Center. More than 1,000 fans had flocked to a party in the hotel ballroom sponsored by KIMN radio and the CBS affiliate carrying the Super Bowl, KMGH-Channel 7.
With the Broncos enjoying a 10-9 halftime lead the crowd was ecstatic. A group from a local exercise studio danced in shiny leotards and tights to the great enjoyment of the crowd.
After the Giants sealed their victory, the Hyatt Regency crowd put on a happy face for the TV cameras, but other sports bars reported less enthusiasm.
Sally Tomlinson of the Ironworks, a local tavern in the shadow of Mile High Stadium, said, "Everyone is a little morose right now. People are a little down."
Bars hosting crowds with a more sophisticated knowledge of the game suffered disillusionment early. Mark Dail, bar manager at Brooklyn's, said: "We started with around 300 Broncos fans, but the mood really shifted when (Denver placekicker Rich) Karlis missed the second field goal. That didn't help much. And the safety really was everyone's final hope."
The exhibition hall at the National Western Stock Show was nearly abandoned at kickoff as fans from all over the Rocky Mountain Region rooted for the Broncos. Stock show officials estimated having the Broncos in the Super Bowl dropped attendance figures by about 40,000.
At Colorado's popular ski areas, business was booming in the bars, rather than the slopes, despite some excellent skiing conditions.
At Breckenridge, the fourth-largest ski area in North America, there were only 3,000 people on the slopes, compared to the usual Sunday crowd of 8,000, said Dave Peri, director of marketing for the Breckenridge ski area.
"We thought about painting the snow orange and the lifts orange. . . . But we figured even if we gave the tickets away today they would have wanted to watch their football," said Peri, as he sat down to watch the game himself.
"We have 70 bars and restaurants in Breckenridge, and you would be hard pressed to find one of them that didn't have some kind of a Super Bowl party going on."
By late afternoon, many of the skiers on the slopes at Breckenridge were foreigners who were there for the Swatch Freestyle World Cup races, which concluded Saturday.
"They just can't believe people are so engrossed in this game," Peri said.
Not all ski resorts in Colorado had sagging lift ticket sales, however.
Beaver Creek Ski Resort in Vail, Colo., offered a two-for-one lift ticket special and attracted about 3,000 skiers, more than usual for Super Bowl Sunday.
One skier who took advantage of the special, Carlos Lopez, said: "I'm not a Giants fan, and I'm not a Broncos fan. I'm a Raiders fan."