Baseball stadium could spark downtown revitalization

By: The Gazette editorial
May 18, 2013 Updated: May 18, 2013 at 6:30 pm
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Taking downtown Colorado Springs from good to great may require only one big move. A new minor-league stadium for the Sky Sox, somewhere smack downtown, would attract new restaurants, bars, shops and condominiums. Downtown would become the uncontested heart and soul of a growing city that's increasingly challenged by balkanizing sprawl.

We cannot say it better than Mike Moran, senior media consultant with the Colorado Springs Sports Corporation.

"There is a huge upside in a new downtown baseball/multi-use stadium, as thousands believe along with me. What it would do for our city's downtown is something so grand that you can't imagine it without an artist's rendering and a bottle of good wine," wrote Moran, who tried to bring minor-league baseball to the Springs 29 years ago, before the Sky Sox arrived.

Mayor Steve Bach has spoken of a downtown stadium since before his election in May 2011. He believes a stadium would initiate market-driven revitalization of downtown while making the Sky Sox more attractive to Pueblo residents and others who drive through downtown on I-25.

We don't need studies to know that a stadium would help downtown. We only have to look at other cities that have added major- or minor-league baseball stadiums to their central business districts to know what happens. The closest, most obvious example is lower downtown Denver (LoDo). After the Colorado Rockies' Coors Field opened for business in 1995, LoDo quickly transformed from a disheveled warehouse district into a fashionable, upscale area of high-end restaurants, bars, shops and condominiums. The district creates wealth for the city's economy by attracting out-of-town fans who spend their money and pay taxes on transactions in Denver. It's hard to imagine anyone wanting to see a return to the early '90s, when LoDo was a place most people tried to avoid.

Bach isn't alone in wanting to explore the possibility of moving the Sky Sox downtown. The team's owners are open to it, but only if they perceive a majority of fans would support the move.

The Colorado Springs Regional Business Alliance also finds the idea intriguing. At Bach's request, the alliance and the Sky Sox have emailed surveys to their fans and members, asking for input on a possible move.

We hope those who fill out the surveys, and others throughout the community, see the value that could result from putting professional baseball downtown.

Bach, the alliance and the team are wise to begin with input from the community. Though it seems like an idea with obvious and enormous upsides, getting from here to there will not be easy. Everything good comes at a cost.

We urge our friends and neighbors to cop a collective can-do attitude about a stadium move. Only positive energy will overcome obstacles such as cost, location and parking. Don't let the barriers, which are inherent to any big project, become reasons for opposition. Nothing about this idea sounds insurmountable. We must avoid spending on liabilities, but the opportunity for a downtown stadium may be a perfect pitch, dead center across home plate - a home run waiting to happen.

Colorado Springs is a great community that is growing and thriving. We have the sustainable advantage of an enviable climate and mountain backdrop other communities cannot obtain. If we embrace this idea, a good downtown could become a place so exciting that even more will flock to our city to visit or live. In 30 years, we could be discussing stadium expansion for the sake of bringing major-league ball to town. It's OK to think big.

We hope all residents of Colorado Springs will get behind this idea and offer creative and constructive ideas for making it so. With the Sky Sox downtown, the sky could be the limit for Colorado Springs.

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