The Auditorium Theatre was in the midst of a three-year renovation that had left the Colorado Ballet without a stage for this year’s installment of its signature holiday production. The City and County of Denver offered little help. Take it to Colorado Springs was the city’s callous suggestion.
At stake was more than a popular Christmas tradition. The Nutcracker accounts for nearly a third of the struggling ballet company’s total revenue and is usually its only profitable production each year. Without The Nutcracker, the Ballet would be in very real danger of shutting down.
Enter David Ehrlich, executive vice president of Kroenke Sports Enterprises (KSE), the company that owns the Pepsi Center, the Paramount Theatre, and the majority of Denver’s pro sports teams. Tall and clean-cut, Ehrlich is built like a basketball player and admittedly knows more about power plays than pirouettes. But he heads up a company with some fairly radical ideas about the future of the sports business. Ehrlich saw the Ballet’s dilemma as an opportunity to further blur the lines between sports and entertainment.