Colorado Springs News, Sports & Business

Gazette Premium Content Springs a candidate for displaced figure skating worlds

BRIAN GOMEZ Updated: March 21, 2011 at 12:00 am

Colorado Springs has become a candidate to host the world figure skating championships after Japanese organizers told international skating officials that Tokyo won’t be capable of staging the competition because of destruction caused by an earthquake and tsunami.

U.S. Figure Skating will submit bids Tuesday from the Springs and Lake Placid, N.Y., to the International Skating Union, which announced Monday it’s accepting applications for the event following confirmation from the Japan Skating Federation that the 8.9-magnitude earthquake and tsunami March 11 make it impossible to hold worlds, even in the fall.

A decision from the ISU will come by Friday, with other candidates including Moscow, the host of the 2005 worlds; Helsinki, which hosted men’s worlds in 1914, pairs worlds in 1934 and worlds for all disciplines in 1983 and 1999; Vancouver, British Columbia, which hosted worlds in 1960 and 2001; and Toronto, which never has hosted worlds.

If the Springs claims the bid, World Arena would be the site, and the adjoining Ice Hall would be used for practice for 199 athletes from 45 countries – Broadmoor Skating Club members Ryan Bradley, Rachael Flatt and pair Caitlin Yankowskas and John Coughlin have qualified, along with national champion and Grand Prix Final winner Alissa Czisny.

Worlds would be held the week of April 18 at the earliest, with late April and early May also permissible by the ISU, which requires an 8,000-seat arena, 700 hotel rooms and TV production of the six-day event. A revenue guarantee between $2 million and $3 million is customary for worlds, and the TV piece would run between $1 million and $2 million.

The seating capacity of World Arena for figure skating is nearly 8,000 – adequate for the Four Continents Championships that were contested here in 2006 and 2007, with a return scheduled for February, as well as Skate America, held in the Springs in 1999, 2000 and 2001. The Crowne Plaza and DoubleTree hotels off Circle Drive combine for 800 rooms, and there’s also housing at other hotels in the area and at the Olympic Training Center.

Chances are Springs-based U.S. Figure Skating, which closed 2009 with $63.6 million in net assets, wouldn’t be on the hook for the TV costs if NBC broadcasts the event, as it did when Los Angeles staged worlds in 2009. Financial support also is possible from the U.S. Olympic Committee, as chief executive officer Scott Blackmun said last week in Atlanta, “To the extent we can pitch in and help, we certainly would be willing to do that.”

The economic impact of the 2009 worlds was $25 million – way more than the Springs nabbed when worlds were held at the now-demolished Broadmoor World Arena in 1957, 1959, 1965, 1969 and 1975. U.S. Figure Skating executive director David Raith declined comment about a Springs bid, and so did World Arena general manager Dot Lischick.

In a statement, the ISU said it “explored all possible options” for keeping worlds in Japan – the event was slated to begin Monday. It also said it’s “evaluating the different options, taking into account all relevant aspects and points of view,” adding that it’s “conscious that a solution satisfying all points of view is probably difficult to be achieved.”

For more Olympic coverage, visit www.gazette.com/olympics. Check out our Olympics blog at http://gazetteolympics.freedomblogging.com.

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