People entering Colorado Springs from the north are greeted by views of the Air Force Academy, Blodgett Peak and the Great Wolf Lodge. Soon, a redone sign will also remind them of the city’s claim to fame.
City officials envision a sleek, aluminum composite sign adorned with a gold metallic flame on the west side of Interstate 25, bearing the words Colorado Springs and “Olympic City USA.”
It’s a new look that will be laid over the city’s current sign, which sits just south of the north gate to the academy, say Doug Price and Vicki Dimond, who are heading the effort to privately fund the project.
“We really want and believe it’s time for a fresh look at the entrance way to our city,” said Dimond, a retired editor of the Colorado Springs Style magazine. “It’s really time … we put the stake in the ground.”
It’s an overdue makeover, meant to compliment a unique aspect of the city, said Price, president of Visit Colorado Springs. And the rebranding stretches back to a 2015 visit to Nashville with representatives of the city’s Chamber & EDC.
Those who took the trip to Tennessee quickly noticed that the city brands itself “Music City” and asked how they could bring that lesson in branding home, Price said. The notion of Olympic City USA came from those within the United States Olympic Committee.
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“Our sports ecosystem is not our largest industry, but it’s the one we can claim that is unique to Colorado Springs,” Price said.
The signage will be laid over, rather than replacing, the city’s current sign, which is 26 years old, Dimond said. Not only will this strategy save hundreds of thousands of dollars, but it respects the fundraising and construction efforts by those who installed the original sign.
The overlay is expected to cost $217,000, funded entirely by donations, Dimond said. In about seven weeks of fundraising, $119,000 has been raised, with the rest expected to be raised by June, she said.
The new look is meant to compliment the U.S. Olympic Museum being built in southwest downtown, Price said.
“With the Olympic Museum, where we are talking about 350,000 visitors a year, many of them coming from out of state, that we would really like to have a sign up that lets people know you are coming into ‘Olympic City USA,’ ” Price said.
It’s also meant to cement civic pride among residents and promote economic growth, Dimond said.
“If you’re a corporation coming to visit Colorado Springs, and you see that sign, you immediately have the perception that this is a wonderful place to relocate, to expand to, for your employees and for your families,” she said.
Considering the timing of the City for Champions project, which includes the museum, a new visitors center for the academy, a sports medicine and performance center at the University of Colorado at Colorado Springs and a sports and events center at two downtown locations, Mayor John Suthers said in a statement “there is no better time to embrace the modernization of our northern gateway sign on I-25.”
While no date has been set for the sign’s unveiling, Price and Dimond said the goal is mid-October, before the museum’s March 2020 opening.
“This is our most visible sign,” Price said. “Ideally, in a couple of years, we would like to have a sign coming in from the airport, coming north on I-25 and we’d love to have one coming down (U.S.) 24 into the city.”
More information and donation options can be found at coloradosprings.gov/olympic-city-usa.