In 1995 Denver International Airport opened to the public and captured the world’s attention. Getting to opening day on February 28, 1995 was not an easy road. It took some real creative leadership, courageous leadership of those contemporaries back in the mid-80s under the leadership of Federico Peña. Were there naysayers? Yes. Were there people who had fear that somehow this would this would bankrupt the city? Yes. I met with those people who were absolutely convinced. This was the worst financial decision ever made in the history of Denver and it would bankrupt the city and then I would be responsible for it. I did my best to convince them that we knew what we were doing. We had a good team. The day of the opening February 28th 1995, I told the staff if we cannot open that Airport, I would not run for re-election. One of the proudest aspects of the airport was the staff moving all that equipment overnight. I felt like General Patton. I was out there waving as people were moving along. That was very special. I think the vision for the airport is really the secret sauce for the for the success Peña and the visionaries, Wellington Webb, Roy Romer, they didn’t just want to solve the problems of Stapleton, the noise and the safety issues. They wanted to create an economic engine for the future for this region. So they bought a lot of land, they planned an airport that could grow to 12 runways. They really had forethought of what this could be. This is the port from Denver to the world and they saw it and they made it happen. 25 years later, DEN is the fifth busiest airport in North America offering service to 210 destinations in 14 countries. DEN is the primary economic engine for the state of Colorado and contributes $33.5 billion dollars annually. Well, we looked at the airport as one of the most valuable assets You know not just for the metropolitan area But for the whole state as we tried to really begin to do the planning to look at, how are we gonna have Fastracks connected? And what’s that going to look like? It there a way to get a hotel at the airport? All the best airports in the world have 500 room hotels tied to the airport. Since I’ve been here, I think the big change is the train that connects us to downtown in 37 minutes. We are no longer in Kansas, right? We are we are part of Denver. And with that came the hotel. The other changes that have happened in my 12 years are the astounding number of international flights that have been developed here and quite honestly the fact that we are now at capacity. We are in this terminal that was built for 50 million passengers. We had almost 70 million last year. You know, it hasn’t taken long for us to truly understand that the most powerful and dynamic economic tool we have is Denver International Airport. There are many visionaries who led the way and never stopped believing in the need for a new, world-class airport. DEN’s vision has always been sharply focused on tomorrow’s possibilities and leaving a lasting impression on everyone who passes through I’m extremely proud of Denver International Airport and every time I come back into the airport, it is so much better then the airports around the country. It’s interesting people sometimes come up to me at the airport because I fly a good amount, and and they’ll say you know I got to tell you, I voted against you, and I was against the airport. I thought it was a terrible decision. But thank you for doing it. And thank you for not backing down and thank you for not listening to people like me. The world would look to DEN as it begins to lay the groundwork for how people will get about this world in the next half century and that’s a powerful position to be in. If you look at the growth that has happened in the last 25 years and you think about the next 25, this airport has so much potential. I’m proud of all the people who have done everything they could. From the visionaries to the folks who operate that airport today. We have a lot to be proud of. Don’t stop believing in what is uniquely DEN. Aliens?! They’re there, I saw them! On my tour as mayor of the city. They took me to the far reaches of that airport and the aliens exist. They made themselves known to me when I went through there. Yeah, they’re there.