Jan 24, 2014 8:33 PM by Maddie Garrett

Taking a Closer Look at Cost and Financing of City for Champions

One of the main questions many people have about the City for Champions project is how to pay for it. The initial price tag is $250 million. But City Councilman Joel Miller said if you factor in 30 years of financing on all of the bonds and loans being proposed to pay for the project, the real cost could reach upwards of $350 million.

Currently, the proposed funding for City for Champions is looking at using mostly public dollars, from the state, county and city sales tax revenues. But there could also be donations or investments from the private sector.

"Including philanthropic gifts, including public bonds, municipal, bonds, there's a number of different things that are going to get explored," said Doug Price, Director of the Colorado Springs Convention and Visitors Bureau.

The State has pledged $120 million through the Regional Tourism Act, but that money can be taken away if significant progress isn't made on the four projects in five years, and not completed in ten. City for Champions includes building a new sports arena downtown, an Olympic Museum, a new visitor center at the Air Force Academy, and a sports medicine facility at UCCS.

"If we don't meet the criteria there will be no funds to pay those debts off," said Councilman Miller about the State's $120 million pledge.

It's proposed that much of City for Champions could be paid for through Tax Increment Financing, or TIF's. TIF dollars have paid for numerous projects around town, like the Lowell housing development and the popular Ivy Wild School for Bristol Brewing.

"To University Village on North Nevada, to a number of projects that would not have come to fruition had it not been for tax incentive financing," added Price.

But Miller pointed out that using such a large portion of tax dollars for City for Champions could take it away from things like storm water projects and other needs in the city.

"To me the roll of government is not to build stadiums, it's not to build museums," said Miller. "I don't think anybody could oppose this if it was privately done."

While there is the potential for private investors and philanthropic donations, Price said at the moment there are no public commitments from outside sources, except from the El Pomar Foundation and its interest in donating to the Olympic Museum.

And unless the city seeks municipal bonds to fund part of the project, City for Champions won't go to voters for approval.

"Right now, the way it's set up, there is no intention for this to go to voters, and I would really like to see that changed," said Miller.

There will be a public meeting on Monday as a study session for City Council and City for Champion leaders. It will be held at 9 a.m., Monday, January 27th, in Council Chambers on the third floor of City Hall. The public is welcome but the city said public comment will not be permitted.



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