When John Dikeou steps to the podium to be honored by the Colorado Sports Hall of Fame, he will be the only inductee in the Class of 2015 who did not win a game coaching, mentor champions, score a basket or strike out a hitter.
But Dikeou’s efforts forever changed the Colorado sports landscape.
Major League Baseball didn’t come to the Rocky Mountain area until 1993. And it could have taken much longer, had it not been for the extraordinary efforts of Dikeou. For more than a decade, he lobbied, negotiated and legislated for what became the Colorado Rockies, a gem for the city of Denver, and crown jewel for the state of Colorado.
“John played a key role in bringing MLB here,” said Rob Klugman, a former Coors Brewing
Company executive who worked with Dikeou in landing a baseball team. “I, for one, remain grateful for his efforts.”
Dikeou purchased the Denver Bears and the team’s MLB territorial rights in 1984 with the intent of bringing a big league team to Colorado. He began his campaign by renaming the team the Denver Zephyrs. He eventually hired Robert Howsam, Jr. of the longtime baseball family as general manager.
Over the next eight years, Dikeou visited baseball parks during the regular season, attended many playoff, World Series and All-Star games to talk with team owners, presidents, and managers. He also met with Commissioners Peter Ueberroth, Bart Giamatti and Faye Vincent along with the American and National League presidents about his Denver campaign.
An All-State football player and track athlete at Denver East High School in the 1950s, Dikeou helped draft legislation in 1990 with Neil Macey, Allen Kiel and State Representative Kathi Williams to charge a 1/10th of 1 cent sales tax through a proposed stadium authority.
Dikeou helped fund the campaign to get legislative approval to place it on the ballot. The sales tax initiative passed, bringing the seven metropolitan counties together to build Coors Field. This new tax generated so much revenue that the Coors Field bonds were paid off 10 years earlier than expected. The continued revenue was then used to build then-Invesco Field at Mile High for the Denver Broncos.
As part of the deal to bring a team to Colorado, Dikeou gave up his territorial rights for a Denver team and moved the Zephyrs to New Orleans in 1993. This allowed the Colorado Rockies to play at Mile High Stadium until the new Coors Field opened on April 26, 1995.
The owner of Dikeou Realty, a Denver-based commercial real estate company, Dikeou also was a founding member of the University of Colorado football scholarship donor program, providing a full scholarship for 35 years. He is a major supporter of Reverend Leon Kelly’s Open Door Youth Gang Alternatives and many other charitable organizations.
A Denver East Athletic Hall of Fame inductee, Dikeou is also one of 48 members of the school’s Alumni Heritage Hall for his achievements in business and philanthropy.
John played a key role in bringing MLB here.