Denver Nuggets games with your kids: A quick-start guide

What you should know about promo nights, tickets, snacks and attractions.
5 min. read
A modern glass face of the Pepsi Center. (Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite)

A kid takes in a Denver Nuggets game at Pepsi Center. (Dave Burdick/Denverite)

Thinking of going to a Denver Nuggets game with your kid(s)? Great! It's a good time. You can talk about sportsmanship and music and big-event etiquette and you can field some questions your kid wouldn't have asked somewhere else. Here's what you should know going in. 

On tickets: There are limited promo nights, if you have the right family configuration. But there are other options, too.

The Nuggets offer family promo nights, "4 tickets starting at just $80 and your tickets will be loaded with $60 ($15 per ticket) in credit to spend on food and beverage."

More flexible than that, but not quite as enticing, is the Junior Jam deal: You get an adult ticket and a youth ticket together for the price of one regular ticket.

Those promo nights are extremely limited -- as I write this, the only two left on the books for 2017 are March 4 and March 26.

The other thing worth knowing here is that the Nuggets draw really poorly. So you can get last-minute tickets pretty easily. I use the Flash Seats app, but you can also use their website, to hunt for secondary-market tickets. I've twice used this to get pretty good last-minute tickets for cheaper than I thought I'd get them -- once for a game featuring the not-quite-world-champion Golden State Warriors and once for an afternoon game with my kid.

You can seriously wait until really close to the beginning of the game and still find stuff available, in case you think you might be pushing your luck with a 7 p.m. start time and want to decide based on how the rest of the day goes.

Upshot: You should be able to get in the door for like $15-20 per person. You want to sit closer? It'll cost you more and I just frankly wouldn't recommend it unless your kid has already demonstrated a pretty good attention span for these games anyway.

Kids 3 and older need tickets.

You can get a certificate for your kid's first game.

It's a piece of paper. It's not that impressive. But if your family is into keeping stuff like this or scrapbooking, it's a cute thing and it'll have the date, the opponent and who in your family attended. It theoretically pairs well with this next item ...

Nuggets Mascot Rocky signs autographs and poses for photos -- but don't delay in getting to him.
Denver Nuggets mascot Rocky rides a motorcycle on the basketball court, which is not allowed during regulation play. (Flickr/David Herrera)

I attended with my under-6 kid and she was pretty charmed by a lot of the fanfare and music. She also liked Rocky, so we were excited when we learned he'd be available to meet during the third quarter. We got there after about five minutes of the third quarter had passed and we were told there wouldn't be time for us to meet him -- there were a couple of families in line ahead of us. We hung around just so we could watch him (this was the first mascot my kid had ever seen, so just observing him was kind of a treat -- "He has a lightning tail!"). I hadn't built it up at all, but if I had, it might have been a bigger bummer. Lesson learned: If they say he'll be somewhere at a certain time, get in line ahead of time.

IMPORTANT: Dippin Dots stands are cash-only.
Dippin Dots ice cream. (Flickr/Leon Brocard)

I repeat: Dippin Dots stands are cash-only. You can pay with a credit card for basically anything else in the arena, so I can only conclude that this is part of some truly sick study dreamed up by childless grad students at the University of Are You Kidding Me Right Now.

As for the on-court product: Kids can grasp basketball pretty well right away.

It's super repetitive and there's chanting and music during the normal run of play. It's basically Daniel Tiger for adults.

Examples of chanting that are easy for even little kids to get: "DE-FENSE!" when the Nuggets don't have the ball -- and when the Nuggets score a three-pointer, which they're doing quite a bit right now, the announcer says the scorer's name in this format: "Gary Harris for one! Two!" and then the crowd shouts "Three!"

During timeouts, emcees come out onto the court and have people play dumb games like oversized skee-ball, or Rocky the mascot tries to shoot the ball backward over his head from half court and comes thrillingly close to making the shot almost every time.

I thought I'd get about one quarter's worth of attention paid to the game but my kid was into it for nearly two. My rule of thumb for sports games so far with kiddos, based on attending for a million years as a kid, then as a hopelessly naive non-parent and now as a parent, is that one snack per half is a pretty solid formula for success. We do a pretzel for the first half and something sweet for the second half if we get to it, but as with all things parenting, your mileage may vary.

Other people will be in attendance.

Yeah, you'll probably hear people say things you might not say around your own kid. That's life. You get to explain sportsmanship to your kid. I definitely learned at least one swear word at Los Angeles Kings hockey games as a kid, but it was a good one and has served me well.

Some part of going out to stuff like this is always going to be about playing a little solid DE-FENSE! 

I'm sure I missed something. Let me know: [email protected]

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