Downtown Colorado Springs took one step closer to having a $35 million multiuse stadium that will serve as the home of the Switchbacks soccer team on Saturday.

Switchbacks staff and city officials broke ground on the 8,000-seat outdoor venue, expected to open in March 2021 at Cimarron and Sahwatch streets.

Mayor John Suthers, one of several speakers at the ceremony, called the groundbreaking a “momentous” occasion.

“Colorado Springs has an incredible amount of momentum,” he said. “This stadium, beginning in 2021, will be a big part of it.”

City Council President Richard Skorman emphasized that the stadium, poised to host an array of events from concerts to amateur sports, will become the “anchor” for downtown. It’s expected to hold 15,000 people for concerts and other events.

“When you think about what we have, it’s a downtown we’ve never had before,” he said. “This is the center. This is going to be the heart.”

The project has been years in the making. A version of the concept was originally proposed in 2013, and multiple sites for the stadium were considered.

Nick Ragain, president of the Colorado Springs Switchbacks Football Club — a professional soccer team based in the Springs since 2014 — was among those who ceremonially stuck shovels in the dirt, signaling the beginning of construction.

“This day is a culmination of a lot of hard work and effort,” Ragain said. “It’s a big win. In the sports business, we’re all about winning. Tonight with those shovels in the ground, that is a win.”

The Switchbacks and Weidner Apartment Homes of suburban Seattle are partnering on the stadium, which does not yet have a name.

It’s one part of a downtown sports and event center project; the other is an indoor arena on the Colorado College campus expected to break ground in 2020.

Both venues are part of the City for Champions, a collection of four projects designed to drive local and state tourism. The others are the nearly completed U.S. Olympic and Paralympic Museum at 200 S. Sierra Madre St., a new visitors center at the Air Force Academy, and a sports medicine center on the University of Colorado at Colorado Springs campus.

The stadium’s cost will be financed with bonds issued by the Colorado Springs Urban Renewal Authority and by the Switchbacks and Weidner Apartment Homes.

On Saturday, Ragain also unveiled a new logo for the Switchbacks, which he described as a “simpler and cleaner look.” It will be used starting in 2021, in time for the team’s first season playing at its new stadium.

“The city of Colorado Springs really doesn’t have a sports culture,” Ragain said. “This is a historic moment to bring professional sports downtown and having the city adopt the Switchbacks. Us being downtown is more than us putting up a stadium here. It’s the city saying yes to the Switchbacks and saying yes to professional sports.”

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