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Insider 2015: Welcome to Colorado Springs

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During the last year in Colorado Springs, the most dominant and divisive political issue has been an ambitious plan called City for Champions. Spearheaded and rolled out (quite inartfully) by Mayor Steve Bach, C4C promises to take tens of millions of dollars in state sales tax rebates and apply them to four brand-new tourist attractions, including a downtown stadium/event center.

There are a few reasons why not everyone has been super-excited about this idea. For instance, it's unclear whether taxpayers would be asked to help foot the bill for that downtown facility, estimated to cost $250 million by itself. No one's decided who would own it, or operate it. There's also nothing concrete regarding what it would look like, where exactly it would be, or what events it would host besides the occasional minor-league soccer game. (Details, details ...)

But one thing that most locals can agree on is that it's time for this city to do something. While Denver explodes with growth, and Fort Collins gains more and more young-professional cachet, and Boulder keeps being Boulder, there's a sense that the Springs needs to play a little catch-up — especially as possible cuts loom for the region's main economic driver, the military.

In some respects, we're poised to act. A new pipeline will soon bring more than 50 million gallons of water a day to the Springs, with even greater capacity expected later. A local developer just bought Banning-Lewis Ranch, a mostly untapped area comprising one-sixth of the city's entire footprint, and is working on a plan for it. And the other three City for Champions projects, including a U.S. Olympic Museum downtown, are seeing funding roll in, even as a new mayor and City Council take their seats.

So no matter how you feel about, um, minor-league soccer, it's an exciting time to be in Colorado Springs. We invite you to make the most of it, and hope that this guide to the Pikes Peak region helps along the way.

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