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  • Writer's pictureMarni Jameson

NFL Football Goes Underground as Fan Caves Flourish

No defensive line, nor deadly pandemic can block a football fan’s passion for his team. And I have now seen the fan caves to prove it.

A story featuring the Top 10 NFL-Inspired Basement Fan Caves has captured the intersection of America’s pigskin obsession and home décor. (And maybe also worst color combinations: midnight green and black?) Talk about fantasy football. These underground game rooms are theme rooms on muscle boosters.

“They are a fun place to show off memorabilia, like signed jerseys, ticket stubs, game balls, and, of course, to watch games on a big screen,” said Tim Tracy, national sales trainer for Groundworks, a leading foundation solutions company, based in Virginia Beach, Va., which quarterbacked the initiative to find the best fan caves.

“Our inspectors get to go into a lot of cool basements,” said Tracy, whose company has 40 offices, including in many big football towns. “During COVID, they noticed a big uptick in fan caves as stadiums sat empty, and more sports lovers watched games from their homes. That prompted us to scour the internet to find the best of the best.”

One of them belongs to Broncos fan Devin Hayes, of Westminster, Colo. A Colorado native, Hayes, 41, who works in sales for a tax resolution firm, has been a Broncos fan since birth, he said. From early on, he watched games with his grandfather, a season ticket holder since 1963.

When he and his wife moved into their home five years ago, he started decking out his fan cave “the minute we got the boxes unpacked.” Today, Broncos navy blue and orange cover every inch of Hayes’s 250-square-foot, subterranean fan cave. He nailed the wall color by having paint mixed at Lowe’s, which has the license for the NFL paint colors.

His brother, who’s in the carpet business, helped Hayes score a piece of the plush orange carpet that the players actually walked on during their Superbowl 2015 ring ceremony. “Then he laid it in the room for me,” Hayes said.

As for what his wife has to say about the basement turned Bronco shrine, Hayes said, “She says it’s okay because it’s below sight level. Seriously, she’s been very accommodating and even helped me paint.”

The cave’s furniture includes two Broncos chairs, a reclining sofa, a 55-inch, flat-screen, smart TV with surround sound, and display cases to show off team memorabilia. His favorites include an autographed Terrell Davis Jersey and a signed Karl Mecklenburg Superbowl football. Pennants and flags hang from the ceiling. He dedicated one wall to the legendary John Elway.

And he’s not done.

Next, he plans to take down a wall and enlarge the space so it can house more of his collection. “I have a lot of game-day magazines, and more flags and pennants. It’s a work in progress,” he said.

Meanwhile, this time of year, you know where to find him on Sundays. “You can’t get me out of there until football is over,” he said. “I go in about 10:30 in the morning, after my chores, and don’t come out until 9 at night.”

For others who have a bad case of football-fan fever, here’s what Tracy and Hayes say to consider when creating your fan cave:

  • The place. Basements ranked first in a Groundworks survey of 1,507 U.S. men that asked where they would most like to have a fan cave. Garages came in second, followed by spare rooms, outbuildings or sheds, and attics.

  • Waterproofing. If you’re going underground with your fan cave, be sure to have the space inspected for leaks and moisture levels, said Tracy, whose company specializes in foundation repair and basement waterproofing. A sound moisture barrier and a dehumidifying system together will not only protect your investment, including all that sports swag, but will also ward off that funky damp basement smell. If your fan cave is in a garage, shed or attic, make sure it’s insulated and temperature controlled, so heat and weather don’t damage the memorabilia.

  • A giant screen with surround sound. “Because if you want to feel immersed in the game you need both,” Tracy said. Some caves have multiple screens.

  • Great seating. You want you and your fellow sports fans to have big cushy bench seating that reclines. (Maybe there is a place in interior design for Barcaloungers after all.)

  • A bar. Install a cooler, a keg, a stocked refrigerator, or a built-in bar, so no one has to go upstairs for a beer.

  • Memorabilia and atmosphere. One fan cave in Chicago starts playing the Bears’ fight song and starts flashing multi-colored with the voice command: “Bear down.” But memorabilia make the cave. These rooms pile on the autographed footballs and jerseys; pennants, programs and posters; ticket stubs, team hats, decals, and more. And the best of them do so with style.

Photo caption: Game on — A search for the best NHL-themed fan caves surfaced a list of the nation’s top 10, including this Broncos basement room in Westminster, Colo. Photo courtesy of Devin Hayes.

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