Mar 19, 2014 1:05 AM by Maddie Garrett

Project Leaders Talk Specifics on City for Champions Progress

City for Champions project leaders talked more specifically about funding options for the four tourism projects at a public meeting Tuesday night. They're also starting to send out requests for consultants, designers, architects and contractors on the projects.

El Paso County Commissioners also announced that they are taking a more active role in the City for Champions (CFC) process by seeking their own third party analysis on City for Champions. Chair Dennis Hisey said they want to check the original estimates and make sure projected revenues and sustainability are on target.

"You get the correct answers by commissioning an independent study that's not tied to application, or one that's not tied to somebody saying I'm going to give you money or I'm not," said Hisey.

That study is due out in three months, and Hisey said it will dictate how they will proceed with CFC.

"It absolutely has the ability to impact the project, it will be made public, it will be presented at a public meeting," Hisey explained.

The independent analysis doesn't mean county commissioners aren't on board with City for Champions. In fact they said it's the opposite.

"I think now we're having a more reasonable conversation about what reality really will be," said Hisey. "It was never anticipated that this would be entirely funded with public money."

That conversation is centering around the Downtown Sport and Event Center, the only project that is looking at using local tax dollars, which would be through a special tourism tax district.

"I think that's what people are reacting to because that's what's down on paper today," said Bob Cope, lead analyst with the Colorado Springs Economic Development Division.

Cope is referencing the original proposal on CFC presented to the State and being put forward still that has local tax dollars as the main way to pay for the sports center. But project leaders said they're actively looking for other ways to pay for the sports center and trying to minimize the amount of local public dollars used.

"Naming rights, and corporate sponsorships, and public private partnerships and private investments," CFC project leader Doug Price listed as options.

Cope added, "Any of those could eliminate or reduce the need for local public financing, but we need to go through that process to find out."

That process could take at least a year. In the meantime, an advisory board needs to be set up to take charge of the sports center, something city council and county commissioners are hoping Colorado Springs Mayor Steve Bach will include them on.

"He's committed to a collaborative process and I'm confident we're going to be able to work out any issues that might remain," Cope said on the Mayor's behalf.

Project leaders also announced that the Air Force Academy is close to deciding on a site for its new Gateway Visitor Center. And UCCS is looking at two possible locations for the sports medicine facility, both are on N. Nevada Avenue adjacent to the new Lane Center.

As for the Olympic Museum and the Downtown Sport and Event Center, there's still no decision on where those will go.



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