Denver International Airport’s elaborate welcome display got off to a rocky start after it flicked on the flashy 1,000-foot installation five years ago, dogged by glitches and breakdowns. Now one of two segments has gone dark again — this time, because thieves made off with key equipment.
DIA said Friday that it reported the theft to the Denver Police Department, describing the missing items in a news release as electrical components “necessary for the operation of our easternmost digital welcome sign.”
It’s unclear when the theft happened, but the release says it was discovered Friday morning.
The display in the grassy median of Peña Boulevard features two curving arrays made up of 908 LED rods that pulse and undulate ribbons of moving light. Set among them are three 48-foot-wide screens that display airport messages and advertising — two oriented to incoming eastbound traffic and one facing outbound traffic.
The airport invested $11.5 million in the display, which debuted in 2017, and inked a $3 million agreement for 12 years of maintenance with Panasonic Enterprise Solutions, which designed the showpiece.
Controversy first greeted the airport’s decision to spend so much money on a welcome sign, and then the display itself, which some charged was too bright and too distracting at night.
Five years later, the display is part of DIA’s sprawling landscape. While DPD investigates the theft, the airport has shut off the eastern array and is working on a repair plan.
“The other inbound sign and the outbound sign (both on the west array) are not impacted and are working as normal,” DIA says in the news release.