Quaker Valley grad savors victory working for Denver Broncos

Jay Roberts, general manager of Sports Authority Field at Mile High, home of the Denver Broncos, is a Quaker Valley graduate.
Jay Roberts, general manager of Sports Authority Field at Mile High, home of the Denver Broncos, is a Quaker Valley graduate.
Matt Grubba
| Monday, Feb. 15, 2016, 11:45 p.m.

While most of Sewickley probably was wishing the Steelers were in Super Bowl 50, one local native watched his new team — and employer — hoist the Vince Lombardi Trophy.

Jay Roberts, a 1985 Quaker Valley grad, had a whirlwind first season as the general manager of Sports Authority Field at Mile High in Denver, which hosted the AFC Championship Game on the Broncos' way to its Super Bowl 50 title.

Roberts took the job in Denver last year after previously working for the companies managing Mellon Arena and Consol Energy Center, and what he got was an experience unlike any he has had as a professional.

“The championship game here was awesome. I've never been part of something quite so amazing — 75,000 people going nuts. Winning that game was pretty special,” Roberts said. “When I was with (Mellon) Arena, the Pens won the Stanley Cup on the road. It was quite a first year here in Denver. Not many people get that lucky.”

In his role working for the Broncos, who have a long-term lease and manage Sports Authority Field, Roberts oversees hundreds of employees, including ushers, security, special event coordinators and others who assist the stadium's day-to-day operation.

Roberts got his start in management soon after college at Miami (Ohio). A former captain of the Quaker Valley soccer team, Roberts played club soccer at Miami and later moved into coaching and helping to run the club.

After finding out he had a knack for being in charge of travel plans, schedules and the like for the club team, Roberts took his business degree and went for a career in sports.

“I got into the business because it seemed like something I would enjoy. I stayed, despite working long and crazy hours for many years because it's a career where my talents, skills and passions align,” he said.

The Broncos' Super Bowl run was special for Roberts, who was able to attend the game with his wife and children and called celebrating with them “one of the best moments of my life.” And unlike in Pittsburgh, where he had an organizational role with the Penguins' last championship parade, he was able to enjoy Denver's festivities with less of a hands-on role.

“It was great being (at the Super Bowl) with my family and my staff. The Bowlen family (the Broncos' owners) sent everyone to the game. Every full-time staff member got a ticket to the game,” Roberts said. “It was surreal as the game ticked down, once you knew they were going to win.”

But how is Roberts adjusting to being a Broncos' man as someone who grew up in Steelers country? He misses his parents and grandmother back in Pittsburgh, he said, but he's happy calling Denver home.

“I attended the Steelers game in Pittsburgh in the regular season when they came back and beat us,” Roberts said. “Going out there, I was wondering what it would feel like, but it was pretty apparent on the plane ride back that I was pretty unhappy. I love the Steelers, and they're No. 2, but it's pretty clear cut I'm a Bronco.”

Matt Grubba is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach him at mgrubba@tribweb.com or via Twitter @Grubba_Trib.

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