A public opening of the U.S. Olympic and Paralympic Museum in Colorado Springs has been delayed as expected because of the COVID-19 pandemic, and the venue's board of directors is targeting a summer debut — though even that date remains uncertain.
The board hasn't set a new date for a public opening, and continues to monitor and evaluate directives from state and El Paso County Public Health officials.
"Right now we just aren't comfortable making a firm decision about when we want to open the doors," said Peter Maiurro, the museum's chief communications and business officer.
"We remain hopeful that we will open this summer," he added. "But we just still have too many variables to make that decision firmly."
The museum's board decided in late March to postpone grand opening and VIP events scheduled for the last weekend in May. But museum officials left undecided a scheduled opening to the public Thursday and Friday of this week, even as they acknowledged it would be unlikely.
On March 25, Gov. Jared Polis issued a stay-at-home order that shut down much of Colorado as a means of halting the spread of the coronavirus. That order was relaxed April 27, but restaurant dining rooms, bars, casinos and museums have remained closed. Polis is expected to announce Monday a possible reopening date for dine-in service at restaurants.
Museum officials will continue to follow guidance from the state and county on how the venue can safely operate once it opens, including directions on social distancing and the number of visitors who can gather inside, Maiurro said.
"We will likely reduce the number of guests that we allow in a particular (museum) gallery, down from where we previously expected those to be," he said. "But we're still in the process of figuring all that out."
The 60,000-square-foot, nearly $90 million museum, at Sierra Madre Street and Vermijo Avenue in southwest downtown, has been built as a showcase for the nation's Olympic and Paralympic movements through interactive displays and exhibits. The venue will include a hall of fame, retail store and café.
In addition to drawing thousands of tourists to the city each year, city officials and community leaders expect the museum to anchor redevelopment efforts in southwest downtown.
Construction is nearly complete on the venue's exterior and interior and museum officials have obtained a temporary certificate of occupancy, Maiurro said. Work also continues on exhibit fabrication and installation of technology and artifacts.
The museum had hired only about a dozen of its expected 45 to 50 employees; none has been laid off or furloughed because of the pandemic, Maiurro said.
"It's certainly disappointing," he said of the museum's delayed opening. "But at the same time, we don't want to do anything that jeopardizes the health or safety of any our staff or our partners or certainly of any guests. While disappointing, we are in the holding pattern and we'll wait until it's safe."