The Broadmoor hotel wants to more than double its Broadmoor Hall exhibition space to accommodate the swelling needs of the Space Symposium — Colorado Springs’ highest profile convention — and attract more meetings and conferences.
Hotel officials have proposed a 93,500-square-foot exhibition hall as an addition to Broadmoor Hall on the city’s southwest side. A corridor would connect the new venue with the 60,000-square-foot Broadmoor Hall, which has hosted events since it opened in 2005.
The new space would help generate business for the hotel during fall, winter and spring, while spinning off activity to other hotels and restaurants and pumping money into the local economy, said Broadmoor President Jack Damioli.
But the impetus for the expansion is the Space Symposium, which needs more room for its thousands of attendees and hundreds of exhibits, Damioli said.
The nonprofit Space Foundation, based in Colorado Springs since its 1983 inception, has staged the symposium at The Broadmoor each year since it was launched in 1984. The 35th symposium is scheduled for April 8-11.
The four-day event’s popularity has grown, attracting government, military, aerospace and media attendees from around the world.
Average attendance is 6,000 a day, but it swells to 9,000 on peak days, says a proposal submitted by Broadmoor representatives to Colorado Springs city planners. The Space Foundation estimates that 200 exhibitors showcase their wares at booths and displays.
Based on the number of hotel rooms booked during the event, the symposium is the city’s biggest annual convention, according to Visit Colorado Springs, formerly the Convention and Visitors Bureau. Past estimates have pegged the symposium’s economic impact at $30 million for area hotels, restaurants, stores and the like.
Broadmoor Hall was built amid a wave of hotel improvements in the early 2000s. The venue has carpeted ballrooms, chandeliers and a fixed ceiling to accommodate luncheons, banquets and other events but can be reconfigured into an unobstructed, pillar-free hall for big events such as the symposium.
Despite Broadmoor Hall’s size, the Space Foundation has a waiting list of 60 to 70 vendors and exhibitors who want to participate, Damioli said.
In the past, The Broadmoor used its meeting spaces — including the International Center and Colorado Hall — to house the symposium.
As the event grew, the hotel began erecting a temporary, tentlike structure next to Broadmoor Hall to house overflow exhibits. Though temporary, the steel-beamed structure takes weeks to set up and has flooring, lights and heating and cooling systems, Damioli said.
In 2018, however, high winds damaged the structure, forcing its closure for a day of repairs. That closure underscored what the hotel and Space Foundation had identified as a need for larger, permanent digs for the symposium, Damioli said.
Adding the exhibition hall would “put a serious dent” in the exhibitor waiting list, said Tom Zelibor, Space Foundation CEO since April 2017.
In the proposal to city planners, Broadmoor representatives described the wind damage to the temporary structure, adding: “The Broadmoor’s ability to retain the Space Symposium in Colorado Springs is contingent upon providing suitable and dependable exhibit/function space for the future.”
The larger space would cement ties between the resort and the Space Symposium, said Doug Price, president and CEO of Visit Colorado Springs.
“The most important thing you can do is hold onto what you’ve got, so you don’t have to be replacing that all the time,” Price said. “So this event space absolutely solidifies the long-term commitment to keep the National Space Symposium here in Colorado Springs at The Broadmoor. That is paramount.”
The Space Foundation hasn’t said it would move the symposium if it doesn’t get more space at The Broadmoor, Zelibor said. Colorado Springs is home to military installations, defense contractors and aerospace companies, so it makes sense to keep the event here, he said, and other cities or hotels haven’t tried to woo it away.
The new space, combined with Broadmoor Hall, would provide about 150,000 square feet, “which is phenomenal,” Zelibor said.
“Ever since I’ve been here, I’ve been very clear that we want to retain the quality and the style of the symposium to what everybody has been used to for so many years, for over 30 years,” he said.
“I have no desire to try to take the symposium somewhere else where we can get 1,000 exhibitors in there. We’re not one of these big Las Vegas shows or things like that.
“We want to be able to address the needs of the majority of our members, because we are a membership organization. And we can do that with this kind of facility.”
The new facility has been designed strictly as exhibit space — not for banquets and other gatherings, Damioli said. It would have pillars, a polished concrete floor and no decorative wall fixtures, chandeliers or fixed ceiling. More than 30 carpeted breakout rooms would be available for exhibitors who want privacy, he said.
From The Broadmoor’s perspective, Damioli said, the new building would have the same goal as that of Broadmoor Hall when it was built: Put “heads in beds,” bringing people to The Broadmoor for multiday events to stay overnight, eat at the hotel’s restaurants and shop at its stores.
The Broadmoor gets much of its business from summer leisure travelers who golf, swim, relax at the spa and enjoy other amenities at the five-star, 784-room internationally known resort, which has played host to celebrities, presidents and dignitaries since opening a century ago.
The new hall would help during slower times, with the Space Symposium serving as the building’s anchor, Damiloi said.
“From there, it’s up to us to go out and find other business to augment that,” he said. “The key piece of this is, that new business is going to come between the end of October and the beginning of April, when we need additional business. If you talk to any hotelier in the city, they will say the time of the year they need additional business is from the end of October through the beginning of April, the off season.”
Price said Visit Colorado Springs could market the Pikes Peak region to meetings, conferences and trade shows that need more space. While the city has smaller exhibition venues, it’s never had a traditional convention center.
Like Broadmoor Hall, the new center would host multiday meetings and other gatherings. But the hotel won’t try to attract home shows, gun shows and other one-day events that draw local residents, Damioli said.
“What will make this facility work is the fact that we will have people in Broadmoor rooms,” he said.
The hall also would bring business to other hotels and motels, including those near the Broadmoor World Arena and along Lake Avenue, Damioli said. Several groups that meet at The Broadmoor book rooms at nearby hotels to accommodate more attendees, he said.
Damioli predicted the exhibition hall also would boost economic development, bringing more out-of-towners who might recognize the Pikes Peak region as a place to do business.
Other project details include:
• The exhibition hall would be built on undeveloped land next to Broadmoor Hall that’s been home to the temporary tent .
• The architecture and landscaping would mirror that of Broadmoor Hall and other hotel buildings. Its height would meet zoning restrictions, though hotel officials are asking to build cupolas — a signature element of Broadmoor architecture — that would reach higher than the zoning allows. City planners allowed the cupolas for Broadmoor Hall when it opened 14 years ago.
• A new exhibit hall lot would increase Broadmoor on-site parking from 1,826 to 1,991 spaces, adequate to accommodate events of about 4,000 participants, the hotel says. As it does for the Space Symposium and other large events,
The Broadmoor says it will use shuttles to transport attendees from off-site hotels and remote parking lots. The hotel also says it will work with neighborhoods to prevent event parking on city streets.
• The hall’s cost, to be privately funded, isn’t yet known, Damioli said. The hotel hopes to start construction this year and open the venue in 2020.
Hotel officials plan to spell out project details during a public meeting at 5:30 p.m. Thursday at the Cheyenne Lodge, 4199 S. Club Drive.
City planners are reviewing the proposal, which they can approve administratively. An appeal of their decision would send the project to the city’s Planning Commission or the City Council. Comments about the proposal can be emailed through Feb. 8 to city planner Lonna Thelen at email@example.com.
The Broadmoor is owned by the Denver-based Anschutz Corp., whose Clarity Media Group owns The Gazette.