Mayor, homeless advocates and grassroots businesses face off ahead of All-Star Game
DENVER – All-Star weekend is only four days away and Denver is ready to do its best to put itself in the international spotlight.
Preparations are well underway for one of the biggest sporting events since the lifting of COVID restrictions.
Street closures are now in place around the Colorado Convention Center in downtown Denver, where many events leading up to the game will take place.
Closures are also taking place near Coors Field.
But some say part of the Mile High City polish for baseball’s big time is just a band-aid on a much bigger problem.
“Having tents all over your town is a big embarrassment,” said Ana Cornelius, spokesperson for Denver Homeless Out Loud. “And it should be, at least for the mayor. So they want people to get away from the baseball field so they can have a good PR time, nationwide.”
Just two blocks from Coors Field, Marco’s Coal-Fired Pizza, now an institution in Denver, is also gearing up for this moment.
“The party is back,” said Mark Dym, owner of Marco’s. “It’s pretty exciting that we’re going to have the street closed from July 9 to July 13. Restaurants.”
Dym and others also notice the homeless sweeps.
“It’s a difficult problem to solve, especially when you’re on the international stage,” Dym said. “I’ve been living with homelessness here for 13 years. You must feel for these guys, but at the same time you have to run a business and run the city. We have to get down somewhere in the middle.
“It’s what the city calls a cleanup,” Cornelius said of a recent cleanup. “We call it a cleanup because humans are moved from where they live. It’s not just a garbage cleanup.”
Cornelius says it’s clear what’s going on.
“This is the all-star game. The mayor’s policies have only exacerbated the problems. He created no solution.
For his part, Mayor Michael Hancock denies the latest sweeps had anything to do with the All-Star game, even when he was pressed by reporters last week.
“It isn’t,” Hancock said. “Be very clear, this is unrelated to the All-Star Game. There has not been a single new ordinance to strengthen the application. What we’re doing after the pandemic is enforcing the law. “
Cornelius says this is just plain wrong. She says most sweeps are a day’s cleanse.
“This sweep was posted over an area of about 20 blocks and was posted for 3 days,” Cornelius said.
Dym says he stays out of politics, but he’s sick of political failures after political failures.
“If you’re going to do a sweep, have a place to bring people,” Dym said. “Find a real solution. Do not keep putting a bandage on it. And that’s all they do. I think it goes back to Mayor Hickenlooper, you know? The Denver Road Home. We were going to end homelessness in 7 years. Well, this whole situation fell apart.
Still, Dym is optimistic about Star Week.
“It’s a major boon for us,” said Dym. “Not just for business, but for exposure. And that we’re 100% open really makes a big difference.”
Cornelius says the cops on the field told his group directly that they were moving the tents away from the baseball stadium.
The mayor’s office insists it is all a coincidence and the sweeps are only intensifying because we are now emerging from the COVID pandemic.
The MLB All-Star Game takes place on Tuesday, July 13 at Coors Field. The festivities begin on Friday July 9.