Dec 16, 2013 5:35 PM by Andy Koen
DENVER - There were handshakes and hugs following the announcement of state support for the Colorado Springs City for Champions proposal. The Colorado Economic Development Commission approved the full $120 million in tax incentives requested by the bidders.
"I think that this is an investment in our future," said Chris Jenkins, president of the Nor'wood Development Group and member of the group pushing for the project.
"It is going to accelerate these wonderful projects, we're going to leverage our strength with the Olympic movement, the one and only Air Force Academy, the growth campus up at UCCS and invigorate our downtown."
The $250 million development plan calls for a US Olympic Museum and Hall of Fame to be built downtown next to a 10,000 seat sports stadium and events center. The money would also build a new Air Force Academy Visitors Center and a Sports Medicine and Performance Center on the UCCS campus.
"Now that we have this potential funding, we can come back to our community and we can really work together, collaborate to find the best way to move these projects forward," said Colorado Springs City Councilwoman Jill Gaebler.
The money comes from state sales taxes via the Regional Tourism Act and will paid over the next 30 years. City leaders must soon decide how to finance the rest of the project.
"There are some great options there and I think we just need to take them one step at a time," Gaebler said. "I think when council understands the nature of what these projects can bring to our community that we will all get on board and support them."
The award is a welcome bump from the lower original estimate of $53.5 million suggested by a third party analyst. In fact, Economic Development Director Ken Lund recommended the board award the lower dollar amount in the interest of guarding taxpayer funds.
"In that context it was my judgment that we should be more careful, more conservative in our view of allocating the state's resources in this project, but the board decided otherwise and I respect the board's judgment in that case," Lund said. "I'm happy for Colorado Springs."
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