September 15, 2013 Updated: September 15, 2013 at 10:30 am
An open letter to City Council members Joel Miller, Keith King, Andy Pico, Don Knight and Helen Collins:
Last Thursday, at the risk of missing kickoff for the Broncos' season opener, over 100 people gathered in the tight space of the Colorado Springs Conservatory to hear about the City for Champions proposal. As they ran out of seats, people lined the walls and crowded in the stairwell.
I was admittedly skeptical but willing to hear about yet another plan for Colorado Springs. The vision was unveiled along with the admission that they didn't yet have all of the answers but that they were at a point that they needed help and support from the community to discover those answers should we be awarded funds from the Regional Tourism Act. The artist renderings of what could be in our city alone were exciting. But as the presentation went on, a vision and identity for our presently apathetic and fractured community was becoming clear.
I left excited that finally someone found a way to do something visionary and impactful in our stagnated city. They may even have found over a third of the money already! An Olympic City, with two great universities in UCCS and the Air Force Academy worthy of visiting. Who could possibly oppose this?
It was with surprise and dismay that I read about the City Council's "no comment" response to the City for Champions in the Sept. 9 Gazette. Although it has garnered the support of Jill Gaebler, Jan Martin, Merv Bennett and Val Snider, it appears that some of our council members are feeling slighted that they weren't included in this process. I wasn't, either; get over it.
I'm glad that some folks took the initiative and developed a great vision for our city that will set us apart and boost tourism to Colorado Springs. These are citizens getting done what no city council in my 20 years of living in Colorado Springs has ever done.
El Paso County, Manitou Springs and Monument have endorsed this. How do you think your "no comment" looks to those who are going to decide on these allocations of funds? I'm not sure I'd give us the money if the City Council won't back it. Shame on you!
You've expressed concerns about funding projects like stormwater. I get that; stormwater still needs to be addressed. But this is a tourism grant. In fact, it could provide some of the necessary tax revenue to help fund a stormwater project. If the state was offering a stormwater grant, then I hope that our city would be all over it. This has nothing to do with our stormwater issue.
There is also concern over who may benefit from this opportunity like those who own property at or near the proposed sites. So what!? Have the vision to see that the real benefactors you should be concerned with are the citizens. How about the job creation associated not only at these facilities but also people who work nearby?
Councilman Miller, these "developers and land owners" that you vilify are also something very important to our city. They are employers creating jobs. Have you ever created a job? While I absolutely appreciate your service to our country, you've spent most of your career on the taxpayers' dime.
Finally, the issue about moving the Sky Sox: This vision is about much more than that. Security Service Field sits dark most of 300 days per year. The new downtown venue would be designed to host not only baseball but concerts, festivals and other sporting events.Aside from that, the Sky Sox are listed among the numerous organizations supporting this: www.cityforchampions.com/supporters.
Quit pouting that this wasn't your idea and get behind something that will truly be impactful on our city and our region. If you can't put together a better vision for our city and how to get $82M to fund it, then you should support the City for Champions. Otherwise, this council will have the same impotent legacy as your predecessors.
Dierdorff is president/CEO of Amnet in Colorado Springs.