City For Champions

“On July 8, 2013, the City of Colorado Springs began its pursuit of supplemental funding with the Regional Tourism Act of the Colorado Office of Economic Development and International Trade. The Regional Tourism Act promotes diversification of the state’s economic base by providing a financing mechanism for attracting, constructing and operating large-scale regional tourism projects, which include tourism or entertainment facilities that will attract significant investment and revenue from outside the state. The application, appropriately named “City for Champions,” highlights four unique and extraordinary venues that will strengthen and diversify the economic impact of our regional and state visitor attractions:

The City for Champions project was awarded $120.5 million over a thirty-year period to help finance the various projects (

City for Champions comprises several projects:

United States Olympic Museum Southwest Downtown Urban Renewal Area
Colorado Sports and Event Center Southwest Downtown Urban Renewal Area
Sports Medicine and Performance Center North Nevada Avenue Campus of the University of Colorado, Colorado Springs
Gateway Visitor Center United States Air Force Academy

Many organizations from across the Pikes Peak Region moved the initiative along to where we stand today. This effort included hundreds of volunteers as well as many representatives from our regional government. The CEDC signed the final resolution authorizing the funding from the State of Colorado during September 2014.  Groundwork for these projects has already been completed. The United States Olympic Museum is moving forward very quickly. However, receiving state funding is just one of the first steps. There is still much work to do before the business plans of the projects—especially for the Sports and Events Center—are truly validated and the remaining funding is secured.

City for Champions proposes that within an established urban renewal authority area (URA), State sales taxes collected above the region’s existing sales tax baseline and ordinary, annual growth rate, be shared back to our community to invest in the construction of the projects themselves. Simply put, the State is going to charge its sales tax on all taxable purchases here in our region no matter what.  Approval of the City for Champions proposal allows us to keep a larger share of that sales tax for investment right here at home, instead of sending it to the State’s general fund. Combined with private contributions and the same type of share back from City and County sales taxes, businesses associated with this whole project will benefit because our dollars stay here and go to work to make these new projects a reality.  As proposed and through new economic activity, the model is self-sustainable.

There is no request for new taxes. There is no increase in expenses on the City or County’s existing general fund budgets. There is only an opportunity to use the new sales tax revenue generated by projects that wouldn’t exist without this, to combine with private donors’ and investors’ dollars to generate new local revenue.

The success of City for Champions can be measured in many ways. It will create jobs in construction and operation. The venues will create an additional flow of in-state and out-of-state tourists. The latter is the key number in determining RTA funding.  The construction of these venues will add pride to the community and be another important step toward an enhanced and positive image of the Pikes Peak region across the nation and throughout the world.  These venues will also be a catalyst to attract young people to a more vibrant downtown.  We have seen the resurrection of Lower Downtown (LoDo) Denver over several decades.  Can we make the same renaissance happen here? In addition, the projects build on several industry clusters that we would like to see grow in our economy: sports, tourism and medicine. If successful, these venues will contribute to attracting new businesses to Colorado Springs.

We have been successful in securing initial funding for these projects. The vision is inspirational. As a community, we need to do our homework (to be sure that these projects have a good chance of success) and then do what it takes to make them happen, forever changing the face of our city and shedding a bright and positive light on the Pikes Peak region.

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