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USOC behind Olympic museum but will not donate money

October 11, 2013 Updated: October 11, 2013 at 8:12 pm
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Scott Blackmun poses for his photograph at the United States Olympic Training Center where he was named CEO of the U.S. Olympic Committee on Wednesday, Jan. 6, 2010, in Colorado Springs, Colo. (AP Photo/ Ed Andrieski )

The U.S. Olympic Committee likes the idea of a downtown museum but the city cannot expect any money from the group to pay for it.

"Our focus remains on providing all our resources to our athletes so they can be as successful as they can be," USOC chief executive officer Scott Blackmun said Friday. "We have been very upfront from the beginning with (former Colorado College president) Dick Celeste that we would not be contributing toward the proposal."

Celeste was one of several city leaders who spearheaded the $218.6 million City of Champions proposal to develop four tourism-related projects: a downtown baseball/multiuse stadium, a U.S. Olympic museum downtown, a University of Colorado-Colorado Springs sports medicine and performance center, and a new Air Force Academy visitors center.

The museum's proximity to the USOC national headquarters is attractive to the board. Those offices moved downtown in 2010 as part of an approximately $40 million incentive package from the city to keep the organization in Colorado Springs.

"We are extremely grateful for what we receive from Colorado Springs," Blackmun said during the U.S. Olympic and Paralympic Assembly at the Antlers Hilton Hotel. "They believe it (a museum) would be a real asset."

The Colorado Office of Economic Development and International Trade will decide in December whether to give up to $82.1 million in state tourism grants. The remaining cost would be covered by $61 million in private donations and about $74 million in public money.

Also this week, the USOC board voted Thursday to revise its nondiscrimination policy to include sexual orientation. The vote came after several athletes spoke out against an anti-gay law passed in Russia, the host for the 2014 Winter Olympics.

"It was the appropriate thing for us to do," chairman Larry Probst said. "It's important to us to walk the talk."

The vote came a week after Probst, a new International Olympic Committee member, said he would support a similar change to the IOC Olympic charter, which does not mention sexual orientation as a form of discrimination.

The USOC hopes the IOC will clarify what will and won't be regarded as violations of the rule against political protests or demonstrations.

"I think everybody has concerns over the uncertainty about where the line will be drawn," Blackmun said. "We strongly believe the athletes need to be free to be themselves. The fact that we do not think it is our role to advocate for a change in the Russian law does not mean that we support the law, and we do not."

Notes

USA Taekwondo, which is based in Colorado Springs, was taken off probation and enjoys full national governing body status. ... Determining the U.S. bid city for the 2024 Summer Games continues with a list of less than 10 cities expected in early 2014 and a finalist by the end, when a bid is due. Probst said submitting a bid remains a priority. ... Former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice was the keynote speaker at the banquet that concluded the assembly Friday night.

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