Denver vs. Charlotte: Which Super Bowl city is cooler?

On Sunday, professional football teams will represent Denver and Charlotte in a battle for NFL superiority. The Denver Broncos and Carolina Panthers will play to bring home the Vince Lombardi Trophy as the winners of Super Bowl 50. But what if the cities were forced to represent themselves? What if the Super Bowl championship was awarded to whichever team’s city is cooler? Here’s our (tongue-in-cheek) comparison of Denver and Charlotte and which city deserves the Super Bowl more. (Winners in italics.)


Denver: The Mile-High City
Charlotte: The Queen City

DENVER - APRIL 15:  Colorado Rockies players stand in the outfield with at Mile High Stadium elevation sign in background before the game against the New York Mets on April 15, 1993 in Denver, Colorado. (Photo by Tim DeFrisco/Getty Images)

Fake-but-believable fact: 14 percent of American cities are nicknamed the “Queen City.” Real and believable fact: There are three actual Queen City locations in America, one in Iowa, Missouri and Texas, while 33 other towns, per Wikipedia at least, have the nickname Queen City, most notably Seattle, which used it as an “official” nickname from the 1800s until 1982. Charlotte is called the Queen City after Charlotte, Queen Consort of the United Kingdom.

C’mon, Charlotte. This isn’t close. Mile-High City is easily one of the top nicknames in the country. Good connotations for days.


Denver: 664,000
Charlotte: 810,000

And Charlotte is one of the fastest-growing cities in the United States. Per the 2014 US Census, Charlotte is the 17th-largest city in America, while Denver ranked 21st. San Francisco, the de facto host city of this year’s Super Bowl, ranked 13th.


Denver: Average summer high of 88 degrees, average winter low of 16 degrees
Charlotte: Average summer high of 89 degrees, average winter low of 30 degrees

Charlotte gets a lot more rainfall but hardly any snow. Denver receives 55 inches of snow a year. For some, that’s cool. For many others, no thanks.

Famous features

Denver: Really big, beautiful mountains; legal marijuana; more breweries than people
Charlotte: A mecca for NASCAR and college basketball, if either of those float your boat

DENVER, CO - MAY 05:  Sunset falls over the Rocky Mountains as a backdrop to the stadium as the Atlanta Braves face the Colorado Rockies at Coors Field on May 5, 2012 in Denver, Colorado. The Braves defeated the Rockies 13-9.  (Photo by Doug Pensinger/Getty Images)

Say what you will about snowboarders, but they’re cool. That is not up for debate.

Top celebrities

Denver: Tim Allen, AnnaSophia Robb, David Fincher, Amy Adams, Kip Winger, Trey Parker
Charlotte: Britt Robertson, Chyler Leigh, Skeet Ulrich, K-Ci & JoJo, Steph Curry, Ric Flair, Jim Nantz, Michael Jordan


Fincher, who has directed myriad Hollywood hits, might be the the key to victory for Denver, which also possesses the biggest non-sports name in Tim Allen. Denver also boasts a lot of people who weren’t born there but grew up there, like Don Cheadle, Pam Grier, Dianne Reeves and Madeleine Albright.

(Ed note: Steph, MJ and Flair trump anyone on Denver’s list.)

Hottest celebrity

Denver: Jessica Biel
Charlotte: Brooklyn Decker

As a supermodel, Mrs. Roddick is tough to beat. But we wouldn’t hold it against you for siding with the legendary Mrs. Timberlake.

Signature food

Denver: Rocky Mountain oysters 
Charlotte: Pork belly

Oysters are an aphrodisiac. I haven’t looked it up, but I’m guessing pork belly is not. (Another Ed note: Should we tell Brad what Rocky Mountain oysters really are? They’re balls, Brad. Pig, bull or sheep balls. That’s not to say they aren’t delicious, but they’re not the oysters that get people in the mood.)

Music presence

Denver: Ranked 20th in the United States
Charlotte: Ranked 21st

I know, this is hard to quantify. But Charlotta Mellander of the Martin Prosperity Institute analyzed Bureau of Labor Statistics figures “on the concentration of musicians and U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis stats on music and recording industry business establishments,” according to, “and combined the results into a Metro Music Index.” And based on that, Denver has a tiny edge over Charlotte.

Top movies

Denver: Identity Thief, About Schmidt, Battlefield: Earth, Things to do in Denver When You’re Dead
Charlotte: Pitch Perfect, The Campaign, Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby



I mean, most student films would have beaten Identity Thief. About Schmidt can’t save it. That said, a lot of movies have been set near Denver. War Games, for example, is set at NORAD in Colorado Springs, just an hour from Denver. Cliffhanger is set in the Rocky Mountains. Red Dawn, the 1984 war movie, was set in Calumet, Colorado, a good drive away from Denver.

Top television shows

Denver: Community 
Charlotte: The Carmichael Show


Based on a fictional town presumed to be in suburban Denver, Community is one of the top cult sitcoms of this television era. Mork & Mindy was set in Boulder, Colorado, just a half hour drive from Denver and South Park is based on a small town not too far outside Denver. And again, Colorado Springs has multiple shows, with Dr. Quinn, Medicine Woman (in the past) and Stargate SG-1 (in the future) set in the town just south of Denver.

Median household income

Denver: $63,000
Charlotte: $53,000

There are a lot of places online that have very different rankings for American cities and their median household income. The numbers above represent a composite average of those researched. Regardless of the actual number, it seems folks in Colorado’s capital typically make more money than folks in Charlotte.

Property value

Denver: $337,000
Charlotte: $232,000

Unsurprisingly, it costs a lot more to buy a home in or around the mountains.

The final tally

Denver: 8
Charlotte: 4

So congratulations, Denver. Even if your Broncos lose on Sunday, you can brag that you’re way cooler than the city that defeated you.

Brad Gagnon

About Brad Gagnon

Brad Gagnon has been passionate about both sports and mass media since he was in diapers -- a passion that won't die until he's in them again. Based in Toronto, he's worked as a national NFL blog editor at, a producer and writer at theScore Television Network and a host, reporter and play-by-play voice at Rogers TV. His work has also appeared at, Deadspin,, The Guardian, The Hockey News and elsewhere at Comeback Media, but his day gig has him covering the NFL nationally for Bleacher Report.