State tentatively OKs separation of Colorado Springs' four City for Champions projects

June 25, 2014 Updated: June 25, 2014 at 8:35 pm
photo - City for Champions United States Olympic Museum rendering
City for Champions United States Olympic Museum rendering  

Each of the four proposed City for Champions projects will be viewed as separate entities, under the draft agreement between the city and the state.

The Office of Economic Development and International Trade sent its edits and remarks to Colorado Springs on its proposed resolution, which is the contract that outlines how City for Champions projects will receive state sales tax increment revenue.

Most of the markups appear to be technical, such as language cleanups. But one key point in the document is the city's ability to do each project independently. In other words, if one of the four projects fails, it will not affect the others. There were concerns early on that the four projects, a downtown U.S. Olympic museum, a downtown sports and events center, a university sports and medicine center, and an Air Force Academy visitors center, would be viewed as one.

"As I understand it, the projects can go forward independently," said Bob Cope, economic vitality principal analyst.

In December the Colorado Economic Development Commission awarded the city an estimated $120.5 million over 30 years to help finance City for Champions. Under the plan, the city will collect 13 percent of the increased revenue generated in a tax-increment finance zone that covers most of the city. The money could pay the principal and interest of a $47.5 million bond for construction costs.

Each of the projects will get a percentage of the state revenue as well. To get state financing, the city must break ground on the four projects within five years and complete them within 10 years.

A spokeswoman for the OEDIT said its director declined to comment on the draft resolution.

"It's an ongoing work product," said Holly Shrewsbury, OEDIT spokeswoman. "We are trying to work with Colorado Springs. There is a little back and forth to move it forward to come up with a final work product."

One issue that will have to be hammered out is the state funding portions for each of the projects. In one section of the resolution, the state details only the Olympic museum, the sports and events center and the university medicine center. The Air Force Academy is not listed as one of the projects to receive a portion of the state funds.

Cope said that the visitors center still is part of the City for Champions and is referenced in other sections of the document. It is a point, he said, that must be clarified.

The state Economic Development Commission will meet July 10 and could consider the final draft of the contract.

Once the contract is finalized, the city's Regional Tourism Act Board will convene. Mayor Steve Bach said he will establish a task force to study a variety of funding options for the downtown sports and events center.

"As soon as the resolution is completed, the mayor will start looking for suggestions from individuals with certain expertise," Cope said.

City Council President Keith King said the council will invite the city attorney to review the resolution and its ramifications with the council at its first meeting in July.

"We will have to have a discussion and try to get some input from council on this," King said.

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