The U.S. Olympic Committee on Friday starts a much-anticipated move to its new downtown headquarters, a major step in an attempt to repair its tattered image in Colorado Springs.
About 100 USOC staffers will take their belongings from the Olympic Training Center to a six-story, 126,000-square-foot building at 27 S. Tejon St. through Sunday, and roughly 100 others will do the same April 23-25, provided forecasted rain doesn’t turn into snow.
National governing bodies for badminton, boxing, judo, taekwondo and weightlifting are expected to soon inhabit a remodeled Colorado Springs Utilities building at 30 S. Cimino Drive, and $16 million in renovations are planned to the OTC, including a new entrance, additional housing units and an upgraded cafeteria and visitors center.
The third and fourth floors of the headquarters building will be the first to be occupied by USOC departments for security, information technology, marketing, development, human resources and communications. The fifth floor will include the executive team, as well as the sport and Paralympic divisions, while finance, legal and audit will be on the sixth.
For now, the first and second floors will remain vacant. Local developer LandCo Equity Partners is the landlord of the first floor. The USOC and the city co-own the second floor, with the city holding leasing rights the first five years of a 30-year, $42.3 million deal, in which Colorado Springs can call itself the “official hometown of the USOC.”
A handful of other USOC employees should move into the headquarters building in June, when the USOC’s lease ends on its international relations office in Irvine, Calif. Staffers not wanting to make the move, such as international relations chief Robert Fasulo, will be given severance packages. The USOC is maintaining hubs in New York and Washington.
USOC chief operating officer Norman Bellingham said the new headquarters “takes this property into the 21st century. It’s where we need to be. And rather than having to leave the building and walk across campus to go see somebody, you can either go down a flight of stairs or across a floor. It makes a significant difference in how we operate.”
Some Springs taxpayers are incensed the city nearly broke the bank to keep the USOC in town – a city agency issued $31.47 million in certificates of participation in October, and the city will shell out $1.7 million a year over 30 years to repay the certificates, a form of borrowing not requiring voter approval that netted $9.5 million.
Another $3 million is due Sept. 18, 2011, to cover the final piece of the OTC renovation expenses. A committee that’s co-chaired by El Pomar Foundation chief executive officer Bill Hybl will meet next month to devise strategies to raise the funds. El Pomar donated $3 million in November when Mayor Lionel Rivera fell short of his fundraising goal.
About disgruntled taxpayers, Bellingham said the USOC is “cognizant of the concerns on that front.” He added that the USOC plans “to work to improve our relations and continue to earn and build our place in the community. … We have every intent of being involved with the activities in the city on many different levels.”
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