The Colorado Springs Switchbacks pro soccer franchise hope to break ground later this month after its 10-year lease at Sand Creek Stadium was approved by the city.
Franchise president Nick Ragain said the USL Pro organization started the permit process with the city in March but held off on some paperwork until the Colorado Springs City Council's 5-4 decision on Tuesday despite the objections of the neighboring Colorado Springs Sky Sox Triple-A baseball franchise. The pro baseball organization said that the two facilities' proximity will harm its bottom line.
The team has resumed its permit applications and will work to streamline the process with the city. The franchise needs to break ground soon since the Switchbacks plan to host two exhibition games this fall.
"(The city approval) couldn't happen fast enough," Ragain said. "We need to get rolling."
Under the lease agreement, the franchise will pay for $1.4 million in permanent improvements that include new bleachers, a press box, two light poles and concrete berms to enclose the bowl-shaped facility. An additional $600,000 in temporary improvements would go toward locker rooms, concession stands and restrooms.
The Sky Sox franchise owners remains disappointed by the 5-4 council decision and concerned about any effect on its business. But the organization plans to work with its neighbors to assure that nothing affects their fans and their enjoyment of 72 Pacific Coast League home games.
The lease requires the soccer team defer to the Sky Sox's scheduling needs before its 14-16 home games.
"We still feel it will harm our business but our goal as it has always been is to provide the best possible experience to the 325,000 fans we have each summer," Sky Sox president and general manager Tony Ensor said. "We will work with soccer to make sure there is no impact on our fans."
Ragain stressed that the soccer club will avoid scheduling conflicts next season and during this summer's construction, which may include leveling the northwestern parking lot used by the Sky Sox.
"We will do the work while the Sky Sox is out of town," Ragain said. "They have a large schedule so it is critical that we have a good relationship."