Now the work begins.
UCCS and Colorado Springs community leaders paused briefly last month to celebrate a successful vote by the Colorado Economic Development Commission for the City for Champions project. The celebration quickly turned to building additional support to make the ambitious four-project community revitalization effort a reality.
In a media briefing at the Upper Lodge, UCCS, CU and community leaders cheered the commission’s decision to allocate $120.5 million while charting the future for the City for Champions project. City for Champions is an ambitious effort to build a downtown stadium, Olympic museum, a sports and wellness center at UCCS and a visitor’s center at the Air Force Academy. The commission’s unanimous vote signaled the region’s recovery from fires, flooding and recession.
“Today is transformational for the community and the community’s university,” said Chancellor Pam Shockley-Zalabak. “We have shown our determination to recover from some really tough times. We are a city that doesn’t quit and is moving forward.”
CU Regent Kyle Hybl, representing El Pomar Foundation as its chief operating officer, praised the commission’s decision and connected the legacy of Spencer Penrose to the commission’s vote.
“Today is an exceptional day,” Hybl said. “We are taking the strengths the city already has and leveraging them into more, not unlike Spencer Penrose did when he built the Broadmoor Hotel or a road up Pikes Peak. He knew the value of the tourist to our community.”
Shockley-Zalabak and Hybl were among the community leaders called to celebrate the unanimous vote. Others included Colorado Springs Mayor Steve Bach, El Paso County Board of Commissioners Chair Dennis Hisey, former Colorado College president Richard Celeste, Doug Price of the Convention and Visitors Bureau, and business leaders Chuck Murphy and Chris Jenkins.
Bach and Hisey emphasized the need to begin mending fences with those who disagreed with the proposal, including the Colorado Springs City Council. The charismatic Murphy simply called the day a “win, win, win” and concluded, “God knows we deserve this.”
For UCCS, approval of the funding means a $13 million jumpstart on plans to build a second building on North Nevada Avenue devoted to sports and wellness medicine. The UCCS Sports Medicine and Performance Center will be adjacent to the new Lane Center for Academic Health Sciences. There, UCCS faculty strengths in research and training, existing faculty ties to USOC and collaboration with the CU School of Medicine will bring new medical expertise and patients to Colorado Springs.
The Sports and Medicine Center would work with Olympic athletes, wounded service members, professional athletes and many others in a clinic-style arrangement.
The City for Champions proposal asked the State of Colorado to share 13 percent of the increased sales tax revenue the four projects are expected to generate over 30 years, $120.5 million. But the projects are expected to cost in excess of $250 million.
Now that state incentives are approved, the next step would be for the Colorado Springs City Council and the El Paso County Board of Commissioners to approve financing for the balance of the project. At UCCS, an additional $17 million is needed to construct the UCCS Sports Medicine and Performance Center. Determining the sources of the additional funds will be the subject of considerable discussions and work over the next several months, according to Brian Burnett, senior executive vice chancellor, Administration and Finance.