Colorado Springs' arts and cultural community says it will benefit from City for Champions
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The Pikes Peak region's cultural community turned out in force Tuesday to support City for Champions, as leaders of several arts organizations said the proposed tourism initiative has the potential to boost the local creative sector - not just the area's economy.

About 250 people attended a meeting at Studio Bee in the downtown Pikes Peak Center to hear updates about the City for Champions projects: a downtown U.S. Olympic Museum, a downtown sports and events center, a new Air Force Academy visitors center and a sports medicine and performance center at the University of Colorado at Colorado Springs.

The crowd - one of the largest since City for Champions organizers began holding informational meetings in early 2014 - also heard representatives of arts and cultural groups explain why the creative sector stands to benefit.

Since City for Champions was proposed in summer 2013, supporters have said the projects will attract thousands of out-of-state tourists to Colorado Springs, whose spending will pump millions into the economy.

But once here, many of those tourists will turn their attention to the arts community; a nationwide study shows that about two-thirds of adult travelers attend a cultural event while on a trip of 50 miles or more, said Andy Vick, executive director of the Cultural Office of the Pikes Peak Region.

Because many of the city's cultural attractions are located in downtown, "it only stands to reason that the success for City for Champions is of great interest and importance to the area's creative sector," Vick said.

David Dahlin, president and CEO of the Colorado Springs Fine Arts Center, said the city's legacy of community and financial support for the arts began with founder Gen. William Jackson Palmer and his wife, Queen, and early civic leaders such as Julie and Spencer Penrose.

Now, Dahlin said, City for Champions is a "once in a generation opportunity" to expand upon that legacy.

"Sports and education and outdoor recreation can be married with arts and culture to create a well-rounded city," Dahlin said.

Meanwhile, City for Champions spokeswoman Laura Neumann said Tuesday's meeting will be the last of its kind until possibly the fall. Organizers will devote the next several months to answering questions related to the sports and events center, Neumann said.

Other City for Champions projects are further along:

- In March, a government agency will solicit proposals from developers or other parties interested in forging a public-private partnership with the Air Force Academy to build the visitors center, said Carlos Cruz-Gonzalez, the academy's deputy director for installations.

- The Olympic Museum's nonprofit board hopes to have a building concept to show the public within 60 days, said board president Dick Celeste.

- UCCS leaders are discussing funding mechanisms and potential community partnerships for its sports medicine and performance center, said Stephannie Finley, executive director of university advocacy and partnerships.

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Contact Rich Laden: 636-0228

Twitter: @richladen

Facebook: Rich Laden

Business writer, Colorado Springs Gazette

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