State board focuses on amount needed for City for Champions to proceed

December 11, 2013 Updated: December 12, 2013 at 4:58 pm
photo - An updated City for Champions rendering shows the new 10,000-seat Colorado Sports and Event Center toward the rear left, a 3,000-seat indoor facility to the right and an U.S. Olympic museum and plaza in the center. COURTESY CITY FOR CHAMPIONS
An updated City for Champions rendering shows the new 10,000-seat Colorado Sports and Event Center toward the rear left, a 3,000-seat indoor facility to the right and an U.S. Olympic museum and plaza in the center. COURTESY CITY FOR CHAMPIONS 

DENVER - In last-minute questions Wednesday about Colorado Springs' City for Champions proposal, state board members wanted to know whether the $250 million project is economically viable without state incentives and how much it needs to go forward.

"I'm just going to be very direct here," said Dwayne Romero, board member of the Colorado Economic Development Commission. "Will this project move forward if the tax increment that may be awarded is not the amount being requested by the applicant, $120.5 million?"

Romero and nine other board members will decide Monday whether to award City for Champions with a state economic development incentive of up to $120.5 million over the next 30 years. Under state statute, the money can only be awarded if without state incentives, "the project is not reasonably anticipated to be developed within the foreseeable future."

The answer Wednesday in a teleconference with the board members and the City of Colorado Springs was that without state funding in the amount requested the project will remain on the drawing board gathering dust.

"The time in which they will come to fruition and if they will come to fruition is the variable that will be pushed out and the quality or the scope of the projects will invariably be impacted," said Chris Jenkins, president of Nor'wood Development Group, which owns land that is key in the proposal of a U.S. Olympic Museum and an indoor sporting events arena for amateur and Olympic competitions.

The proposal also includes a sports medicine facility on the University of Colorado at Colorado Springs campus on North Nevada and a visitor's center at the U.S. Air Force Academy north of Colorado Springs.

UCCS Chancellor Pam Shockley-Zalabak said while the sports medicine clinic is part of a master-plan for a large-scale medical campus on North Nevada, the building isn't part of the next phase and without state assistance would be a long time in the making.

The incentive being sought by the city is under the Regional Tourism Act and can be awarded to unique projects that promise to draw new tourists to Colorado from out of state.

The incentive is known as tax increment financing. It promises the developers of a qualifying project a percentage of new state sales tax generated in a designated area over 30 years.

The city is seeking 13 percent of the increased sales tax amount - known as the tax increment - of an area that stretches from the airport southeast of the city to the Air Force Academy in the northwest.

According to the city, that would be roughly $120.5 million over 30 years, based on an estimated increment of about $921 million.

A third-party review of City for Champions said the city should only receive about 6 percent of the new sales taxes generated in the area, which it estimated at about $867 million. That would be roughly $53.1 million over 30 years.

Chairman Dick Monfort of the Economic Development Commission wanted to know if the commission had to go with one or the other of those numbers.

Ken Lund, executive director of the Office Economic Development and International Trade, said in his interpretation of the law, the commission had a great deal of latitude to set the percentage where it sees fit.

Lund will make a recommendation to the commission on Friday, which is supposed to be a confidential document.

Last year - the first year that the state implemented the Regional Tourism Act, Lund recommended the commission approve only one of six projects that was presented.

Lund recommended the Gaylord Hotel project in Aurora, which ultimately received funding.

But the board selected a second project - a Pueblo riverfront redevelopment effort - to also receive RTA funding.

This year Colorado Springs was the only applicant for RTA funding.


Contact Megan Schrader

Twitter: @CapitolSchrader


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