Organizers of the City for Champions plan to visit at least 11 cities that have built downtown sports and event centers in search of the secrets to their success.
The travel itinerary includes stops in Texas, Alabama, Georgia and Florida to name a few, said Laura Neumann, former Colorado Springs Chief of Staff who now is heading up the citizen volunteers for the City for Champions.
Members of the newly formed Regional Tourism Act Advisory Board and some of the original organizers will start taking trips by the end of summer. Trips would be funded privately, she said.
Neumann gave the update on the City for Champions projects Tuesday at a monthly meeting held by organizers who include Mayor Steve Bach, El Paso County Commissioner Dennis Hisey and Colorado Springs City Council president Keith King - the three co-chairs of the RTA Advisory Board.
Last week, Bach announced the names of the rest of the 15-member RTA Advisory Board, which is charged with ensuring the city is in compliance with state rules and deadlines related to the four City for Champions tourism projects: a downtown sports and events center; a downtown Olympic museum; a university sports medicine and performance center; and an Air Force Academy visitors center.
In December, the state awarded the city an estimated $120.5 million in state sales tax money collected over the next 30 years to help finance City for Champions
The sales tax collections could be used to finance about $47.5 million in bonds to pay for part of the construction costs of the four projects. The rest of the $200 million would be raised privately or in the case of the proposed downtown sports and events center, could be financed with local sales taxes.
About 40 people attended the City for Champions meeting, compared to the more than 100 at each of the first two meetings. This time the room was filled mostly with City for Champions supporters who cheered and clapped at comments from organizers.
Only Bill Murray, who regularly posts comments and questions about City for Champions on social media sites, asked critical questions of the panel. Murray, who at the first two City for Champions meetings had "true" and "false" paddles he held up as presenters made their statements, asked Bach why he ignored input from county commissioners and city council members on the resolution, or contract, he sent to the state last month.
Bach responded: "I want to start by asking you to please discontinue distributing misinformation."
Bach said the resolution with the state solidifies the city's commitment to using state sales tax money for the four projects outlined in the city's application. "All it does is acknowledge that we will meet certain requirements," he said
Bach went further in answering Murray's question. He said City for Champions organizers have no intention of using eminent domain to take private land for the projects.
"It's not going to happen," Bach said. Bach said he supports the sports and events center in concept but wants more information on how the event center could be financed and operate. "I hope you believe that," he told Murray.
--The University of Colorado at Colorado Springs is reviewing several applicants to consult with the university on how to structure its sports and medicine performance center. The university wants to attract private partners, similar to how it partners with Peak Vista Community Health Centers at the Lane Center for Academic Health Sciences.
--The U.S. Olympic museum is nearly done with a draft agreement between the U.S. Olympic Committee and the museum organizers. The agreement is expected to allow the museum the use of Olympic artifacts and content for display. That agreement is expected to be finalized by November.