Colorado Springs City Council members left the door open Monday to an ambitious proposal to build a roughly 10,000-seat downtown sports and event center in city-owned Antlers Park, saying they'll explore legal ramifications of the plan as a prelude to perhaps studying it in greater detail. Read more here.
Here are some comments from Gazette readers.
Comment by Tim (Fotinos)
The owners of the Antlers Hotel did not design it or build it, so they are not at fault, but face it, the building is ugly. Its more Moscow 1971 than Colorado anytime anywhere. The plaza in front of it is an unused concrete slab with structural beams overhead and a couple scraggly plantings. Sure the new owners have applied some lipstick to this porcine building. But its still nothing to look at. (The new inside is nice, but thats a different story).
To all this Mr Perry wants to pave over one of the last tracts of mature trees and grass downtown and add what? More concrete. For a stadium of no defined purpose! Bad idea. Very bad.
OK the homeless are an issue, and the park is underused (today, would it be if trains again left the train station?) In any case heres a better idea for the park than an empty stadium too small to host much more than a badminton match: Fence the park.
From sunrise to sunset it would be open to the public. From 30 minutes after sunset for 3 hours the park may be used by the Antlers for whatever event they book. Then the gates close and the park does not open until sunrise or 8am, whichever is later. The real Antlers had a grand staircase to open space. Why not a stairway to the park?
There has been empty land in that area for a quarter century the city has saved and served up to developers who used it for nothing. If someone wants a stadium, let it be built there.
Response by Perry Sanders
As the co-owner of the Antlers and citizen who does not want to squander 28MM in free money, I very much appreciate your thoughtful approach to helping make this a safer park in keeping with Palmer's wishes. I will be responding to some of the other comments clarifying misconceptions where there are some, but I really appreciate you putting on a thinking hat about how to help fix this iconic park's issues.
If the stadium goes there, to be clear we don't want anyone except the citizens to own it and we don't want any sort of exclusive right to it. The easiest way to describe what we are proposing, is to imagine one of our most used parks, Bear Creek Park, and instead of berms to sit on, on the side of the field, put vertical bleachers. Nothing more nothing less.
This will be a wide open huge field for the public to use in the same ways Bear Creek Park is currently used. Not much of a criminal problem there because it stays so full of activity. Activity is not what drug users and criminals are after. They tend to stay away from it. Add to this the fact we save money that was on it's way down the toilet till we started working on this, and you get a 2-fer.
We can make this as complicated as we want, but this is what will actually get built. This is the sort of open space where people will throw frisbees, play touch football, run stadiums, have picnic under the bleachers where we plan a bunch of covered picnic tables and kid play area, and just in general be fully activated like one of the City's best parks. And we are not asking for any money from the City General fund to get this done. So I hope this helps clear up any misconceptions.
To be clear, we don't care if the City Parks Department, or El Pomar or AEG or anyone else wants to run it. We can certainly do that, but that is not part of what we are asking for. We just want it built and to save the C4C money and turn this into a super used and great PUBLIC PARK. Anyone who thinks Palmer would prefer needles, feces, crime and trash to this idea, has a very different idea of What General Palmer would want in 2018 or in 1888.
Comment by Charles D.
Richard Skorman, of all people, should know better. The primary issue with Strawberry Fields was the taking of a public park that had been purchased to be a public park forever. This is the same issue...deja vu all over again. Without broad consensus among the public, by which I mean a ballot question, parks must be kept off limits for development.
Response by Nick
What's proposed is moving the Park from passive space to active space and because it is part of Monument Valley Park where there is a history of changing active and passive uses, this makes a ton of sense. I believe the proposal that was given respects history, parks, and the context given it by the Palmer Center.
Comment by D
Current stadium is for 5000 people. Average attendance is about 3000. Now they want a 8,000 to 9,000 seat stadium. Why? That's 5,000 empty seats. If this is still good business let Sanders build it with his own money.
Response by Nick
There are many recent examples that demonstrate USL franchises in the right location multiply attendance in multiples of 2.5 to 10. Last year 3 USL teams moved into better located venues and the minimum spectator growth was 2.5 times. Just like real estate, location means everything. People want live / work / play and you just don't get that in the suburbs.
Comment by Jerry
Every election politicians want to raise taxes for everything under the sun. Crying and threatening tax payers that the world will end if they don't get their tax hikes. Now we're back to this sports center that will cost $93 million but they only have $23 million of taxpayer money. So guess who is going to have to make up the other $63 million? You guessed it. TAX PAYERS.
The politicians will start their same old cry baby tax blabber at the next election that the city has to have it for the sports center or will lose $23 million. Total BS. Use the $23 million for "real"projects like more road fixes. Not for more junk like this sports center or a bike lane that was not needed or a blue frame in GOG's. Enough already.
Response by Perry
Jerry, As one of the sponsors for this program, you are misinformed about tax hikes for this park. The numbers used in the report that was generated were inaccurate to put it mildly. The fact we can make use of a tremendous amount of the Antler Hotel infrastructure including a very long and covered landing area and over 30MM in parking spaces in the building, make this one of the only economical places we can imagine to put this stadium.
You are completely off regarding the 63MM delta but understand how you got there based on a report that the Ragains, our partners, were not asked to participate in. That is unfortunate because Ed Ragain is one of the most knowledgable people in America about this sort of stuff with the engineering firm participating in projects everywhere, We will not be asking to raise your taxes and will not ask for a penny from the general fund.
I assume that you would be ok if there is a much smaller delta between C4C money and the final costs, to use a small part of LART (lodging and resort tax) money since the main industry that will benefit from all the out of city and state business this will generate, will indeed be paying that money when they stay at our city's hotels and resorts.
Thank you for bringing the public misconceptions to a head in your response and please accept this as a clarification regarding them
Response by Charles D.
It’s not a $23M loss. It’s a $23M discount on a much bigger expense. Just as I don’t lose $5K when I don’t buy that F150 that has a $5K discount off of the sticker price, we don’t lose $23M by not rushing to build something that few citizens seem to want.
Comment by Chris Lukens
This has been planned for a long time. It now makes sense why they got rid of the historic DRG steam locomotive.
There is such a thing as benign neglect, but what is happening to Antlers Park can best be described as purposeful, malevolent neglect.
Response by alf
Agree w/ Chris...just 'coincidental' that the locomotive found a new home. Bet Perry and John wish it was that easy to find a new home for all the transients in the 'malevolently neglected' park.
Comment by Mark
This city has more important issues to worry about than a downtown sports/events center. Let private developers spend their money, not yours or mine. If it is such a lucrative deal then a number of developers should have already broken ground somewhere in the downtown area.
Response by Nick
There are many challenges to meet the grant and bring the 28 million dollars to Colorado Springs. This private group takes responsibility to meet those challenges for the benefit of the City. Hopefully there are some people who can get behind them.