The rowdiest fans at the Pepsi Center have their own section come playoff time. Thanks to an idea, born at a Magic vs. Nuggets game, from Jonathan Diedrich and five of his friends - the diehards have called the upper deck home for the past five playoff runs. This season will be no different, except of course for the name change from Melo's Yellows to the Mile High Club.
When the NBA playoffs roll around they say the game itself changes drastically. Well, I can tell you firsthand that the crowd at the Pepsi Center also changes, thanks in part to Diedrich and the fan section he helped create and maintains today.
When I received notice of the new name for the section I couldn't help but to let out a small chuckle. After thinking about attending games in years past with the Melo's Yellows crew I realized what Diedrich was doing was something pretty special. Most of the readers, if not all, of Denver Stiffs are some of the most fanatical Nuggets fans I've ever run across. We've all found this blog to be a place where we can discuss the team, share some laughs, get in some heated debates, and hopefully grow a bit as fans and people. The Mile High Club also has been a great place to meet other great Nuggets fans, shares some stories, watch games in a very entertaining way, and make some new friends along the way.
I was curious as to how Diedrich got started and what, if any, hurdles he encountered along the way. I've encountered various friends at the MHC pre-game events and during the games themselves and we all seemed to be finding out about the section through different avenues. So I emailed Diedrich and asked him to share his story in a Question and Answer format, he was kind enough tell his tale about the Mile High Club formation.
1.) Initially, what prompted you to want to create a big section for the Nuggets playoff games? Was there a big demand for tickets from your friends or were you confident you could fill up a lot of seats?
Jonathan Diedrich: In 2005 six of us attended a San Antonio Spurs playoff game. Literally all the fans around us got upset at us for cheering and trying to have a good time. The next season my friend Jake and I were at an Orlando Magic game sitting in the upper level and there was barely anybody in our section. We just talked about how much fun it would be to create our own "student section" where everyone stands and cheers the entire game. So about halfway through the game I looked at Jake and said, "Do you think we could fill this whole section up with our friends?" and he said, "Yep!" That's all she wrote, I called the Nuggets the next day and Melo's Yellows was born. So there never really was a demand, but once I let everyone know the plan they were all on board and it has grown every year since.
The "Original Six," creators of Melo's Yellow, now the Mile High Club
at the Nuggets vs. Spurs playoff game in 2005 at the Pepsi Center.
2.) What kind of process did you have to go through to make your goal of creating a section a reality?
Diedrich: The Nuggets ticketing staff has been very helpful since day one. I met with them and let them know my idea and then figured out the most convenient way to make it work. From there I had to decide on a name. Carmelo Anthony was a rising star in the league and I wanted the section to stand out, so Melo's Yellows worked perfectly with the bright yellow T-shirts. Before the playoffs started that year I sent email out letting everyone know what we were doing and just making sure that they were all Nuggets fans and that they were willing to stand and cheer the entire game. The whole reason I started the section was because I wanted to create an atmosphere for real Nuggets fans who want to cheer for their team and have the best time possible at an NBA game. The past few seasons we have used Facebook to spread the word. This year we will be adding a Twitter account.
3.) This season the section will be going under the name, "Mile High Club" - what prompted the more "section oriented name" versus an individual name?
Diedrich: In the NBA nowadays it is rare for a player to stay with a team his whole career. Obviously when Melo left it was frustrating, but I'm sure every fan agrees it has been refreshing to watch this team play together the past few weeks. We did consider naming it after coach Karl, Nene, Birdman, Lawson, and even J.R. Swish, but in the end instead of picking an individual we decided to and give the section it's own identity.
Diedrich: Immediately after the trade I just put "suggestions?" on the Facebook page which prompted numerous replies and likes. I obviously had been thinking about it since the summer since the trade rumors, so I had a few names in mind. A few weeks later I just posted the question on Facebook, "What should we re-name Melo's Yellows?" Mile High Club received the most likes, so I went with it. The section is in the upper level, which when you think about the purple row at Coors field, is almost exactly 5,280 feet or a mile high. Also the section signifies an exclusive club that a lot of people would like to join, but only few have.
Also, by naming it the Mile High Club we were able to use Denver as the basis for the design. The new look includes the same Nuggets color scheme with the "Mile High City" and the Colorado flag as the main elements. We wanted the "Mile High Club" logo to be a combination of symbolic elements that reflect the culture and geography of Denver, as well as the entertaining and enjoyable atmosphere of the section.
Diedrich: Basic guidelines are to stand and cheer the entire game and have as much fun as you possibly can. We try to get the section to cheer in unison or have everyone put their hands up during free throws etc. I encourage everyone to be as wild and crazy as possible, but still respect the other fans around you. No profanity, no trying to throw their beer at the refs. If you are a first timer you are in for a treat. It’s basically a party in the stands. We always arrange a pregame meeting spot to have a couple drinks, take pictures, and meet some fellow members. During the game it’s like you have 200 new friends, a lot of cheering, dancing, and high-fiving. I strongly encourage fans to dress up as crazy as they want in costumes and sometimes we even have themes. After the game, and hopefully a win, the majority of the section will attend the same bar and celebrate the rest of the night.
Diedrich: As of right now we are sold out and have a waitlist for the playoffs, but I encourage anyone who is a real Nuggets fan and wants to join to email me at email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org and let me know you are interested. Every year we have no shows and people back out last minute so you never know when there will be an opening.
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