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Olympic museum, more airline flights would help city, USOC leaders say

By: Joe PaisleY
October 10, 2013 Updated: October 11, 2013 at 6:55 pm
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Colorado Springs Airport, with Peterson Air Force Kevin Kreck

Building a downtown museum and improving the airport are two ideas some Olympic leaders think are good for Colorado Springs.

"The USOC headquarters is here," said Ursula Burns, the chief executive officer of Xerox. "We need, desire, and require that Colorado Springs be a premier city. Increasing tourism is a very good idea but being able to get here is very important. Colorado Springs is like a lot of small cities that are dealing with the problems of getting here."

Burns and other U.S. Olympic Committee board of directors members are in town Thursday through Friday for the annual Olympic and Paralympic Assembly at the Antlers Hilton Hotel.

City and business leaders are working to increase the number and lower the cost of flights in and out of the struggling Colorado Springs Airport after Denver-based Frontier Airlines left in April.

The addition of an Alaska Airlines flight from Colorado Springs to Seattle starting next month should soften that blow but a task force, which includes USOC CEO Scott Blackmun, continues to work to bring in more.

"Collaboration between the USOC and the city is key," Burns said. "We want that because it aids the USOC and the (U.S. Olympic) Training Center and everyone else."

Complementing a healthier airport would be a stronger downtown, which would benefit the USOC national headquarters, which moved there in 2010 as part of a $42.3 million incentive package from the city to keep the organization in Colorado Springs.

"An Olympic museum is certainly a good idea," board chairman Larry Probst said. "I think it makes sense for downtown and is an important part of the overall package."

The Colorado Office of Economic Development and International Trade will decide on the city's $218.6 million City for Champions proposal to develop four tourism-related projects: a downtown baseball/multiuse stadium, a U.S. Olympic museum, a University of Colorado-Colorado Springs sports medicine and performance center, and a new Air Force Academy visitors center.

There would be a synergy with both (the museum and USOC headquarters) and would bring people into the city, USOC spokesman Patrick Sandusky said.

"Proximity is always a good thing," he said.

If the proposal is approved, the city could get $82.1 million in state grants. The remaining bill would be covered by $61 million in private donations and about $74 million in public money. A decision is expected in December.

Keeping the USOC allows the city to market itself as an Olympic city, an opportunity it can take better advantage of with a museum and more people flying into its airport.

"It was so much fun to walk through and have torches lighting the way at the airport and to have all Olympic points of interest displayed," said board member Bob Bowlsby, the Big 12 Conference commissioner. "That was a great experience."


USOC Board of Directors

Larry Probst, chairman - Elected to International Olympic Committee on Sept. 10; executive chairman of Electronic Arts, the world's leading developer and publisher of interactive entertainment.

Anita L. DeFrantz - IOC member since 1986; elected to IOC's executive board Sept. 10; 1976 Olympic rowing bronze medalist

James L. Easton - IOC director since 2004; chairman and CEO of archery equipment company, Jas. D. Easton Inc., and owner of Easton Technical Products and Hoyt Archery.

Angela Ruggiero - four-time Olympic ice hockey medalist; IOC director since 2010; part of 11-member IOC Evaluation Commission for 2018 Winter Games,

Robert Bach - retired in 2010 as Microsoft's president of entertainment and devices.

James Benson - served as CEO of John Hancock Life Insurance Co.

Bob Bowlsby - Big 12 Conference commissioner; former Stanford athletic director.

Ursula Burns - CEO and chairman of Xerox; first African-American woman to head a Fortune 500 company

John S. Hendricks - founder and chairman of Discovery Communications; creator of the Discovery Channel,.

Nina Kemppel - four-time Olympian in cross-country skiing and 18-time national champion.

Susanne Lyons - was executive vice president and chief marketing officer of Visa USA.

Bill Marolt - president and CEO of the U.S. Ski and Snowboard Association; former Colorado athletic director.

Mary McCagg - Two-time Olympic rower; 11-time national champion and three-time world medalist.

Dave Ogrean - executive director of USA Hockey; Top 50 People of Power and Influence by The Hockey News from 2006-10; Top 100 Most Powerful People in Sports by The Sporting News from 1993-99.

Whitney Ping - 2004 Olympic table tennis team member, USOC Athletes' Advisory Council member until 2012; private equity associate at Bain Capital in Boston.

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