Colorado Springs group gets breathing room in quest for big bucks for tourism projects

June 17, 2013 Updated: June 18, 2013 at 8:48 am

A group of Colorado Springs leaders has more time to put the final touches on its multi-million dollar tourism projects proposal, which tentatively includes a U.S. Olympic Hall of Fame and a downtown stadium.

The application deadline for the state's Regional Tourism Act program was extended from June 18 to July 8 to allow more time for communities impacted by or assisting with wildfires.

The group, headed by city officials and Mayor Steve Bach, is penning a proposal that includes building an Olympic Hall of Fame and a downtown multi-use stadium, moving the Air Force Academy visitor center outside the base gates for easier access, and expanding a University of Colorado at Colorado medical complex on North Nevada Avenue.

The project has picked up support from the El Pomar Foundation, the Downtown Development Authority, the Convention and Visitors Bureau, UCCS and the Anschutz Family Foundation.

The project list isn't set in stone, however, and those involved are reluctant to discuss the details, saying they don't want to show their hand in the competitive process. The state will select only two proposals. Last year, six proposals came in.

The state says projects must be extraordinary and unique, and must have the ability to bring in out-of-town visitors to be considered for the program, which was created three years ago to help local governments get state sales tax rebates on projects that bring in tourists.

Last year, the state awarded $81 million in state sales tax rebates over 30 years to Aurora, where developers have plans for a 1,500-room hotel and convention center. Pueblo was awarded $14 million in state sales tax rebates over 30 years for its Professional Bull Riding University and river walk and convention center project.

City Attorney Chris Melcher, a member of the group preparing the Colorado Springs grant application, called the Colorado Springs proposed projects "transformational" - ones that, if approved, could lead to economic development across the city, he said. He declined to specify the amount of money the city is seeking.

Clarity Media Group, a subsidiary of The Anschutz Corp., owns The Gazette.

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