City For Champions project full-steam ahead

Mayors of Monument, Woodland Park likley to be asked to serve on board

photo by Rob Carrigan
The 31,600-square-foot building contains exhibits, a snack bar and a gift shop. A one-third-mile paved nature trail east of the facility allows visitors to walk to the Cadet Chapel.
Danny Summers

On Dec. 16, the city of Colorado Springs received great news when the Colorado Economic Development Commission awarded an estimated $120.5 million during the next 30 years to help finance the City for Champions project.

City for Champions includes a downtown sports and events center, an Olympic museum, a new Air Force Academy visitors center and a sports medicine and performance center at the University of Colorado at Colorado Springs.

But the combined price tag of the completed projects is estimated to be double what the city received; meaning a lot of fundraising will be required.

“This has meaning far beyond what we could possibly envision today,” Colorado Springs Mayor Steve Bach said during a news conference at UCCS. “I don’t think that overstates our circumstance.

“What this will do for so many generations of people in this region and for all those will visit here. The jobs it will create, not only directly, but catalytically through this wonderful state of Colorado and the Pikes Peak region.”

Bach and City For Champions backers are in the process of establishing a board. The board will likely include representatives from the City and El Paso County, the four tourism projects, and the public.

Bach said he also plans on including members of his office, the City Council, El Paso County commissioners, and the mayors of Woodland Park (David Turley) and Monument (Travis Easton).

Both Turley and Easton gave their full support to the project through letters of recommendation.

“These projects have been pursued for decades and have enjoyed significant community support, but the gap in sourcing funds from traditional sources of private and philanthropic capital has precluded these projects from coming to fruition,” Bach said. “Over the last two years, our economy and tourism industry have been severely impacted by two devastating fires, unmatched in Colorado’s history. It will take years to recover from the damage and an RTA grant will speed that process.”

According to the City for Champions proposal, there will be several huge benefits. Among them are 449,000 net new out-of-state visitors to Colorado annually; $6.9 billion in net new state retail sales over 30 years; $201.7 million in net new sales tax revenue over 30 years; more than $312 million in net new local sales tax revenue over 30 years; more than 750 new direct permanent jobs and more than 310 new construction jobs.

Some of the specifics of the City For Champions project include a new $59.4 million museum that would display Olympic exhibits and a $92.7 million Colorado Sports Event Center that would have a 10,000-seat outdoor stadium and a 3,000-seat indoor arena.

The Academy would get between $6 million and $8 million toward a new visitors center, while UCCS would get money toward a $27 million project that would include a state-of-the-art rehabilitation clinic.

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