Olympic Museum scratches its early 2018 opening date


The U.S. Olympic Museum and Hall of Fame won't open on the date planned. - COURTESY CITY OF COLORADO SPRINGS
  • Courtesy City of Colorado Springs
  • The U.S. Olympic Museum and Hall of Fame won't open on the date planned.
So today we learn that the Olympic Museum and Hall of Fame won't make its goal of opening the facility in time for the 2018 Winter Olympics as originally planned, because fundraising has fallen short. The Gazette carried the story on Page 1 of Friday's issue.

Dick Celeste, former governor of Ohio and president of Colorado College who's heading the museum effort, says the board refuses to begin the project until it has commitments for money to cover all of the project's hard costs — construction, that is. Those costs total $67 million to $68 million, he says, and the organization is $10 million short.

"We don't want to begin without knowing we have all the commitments to finish the project," he says.

(The ultimate goal is to raise $80 million so there's ample funding for contingencies and soft costs, such as grand opening expenses and hiring of staff.)

So far, the museum hasn't mounted a public campaign, but Celeste says there will be one.

"I think there will be a public campaign, but that's going to be more for the soft costs, in terms of the opening," he says, including hiring staff prior to opening the doors. The museum has but one full-time and one part-time employee. "Everything else is volunteer," Celeste says.

So it's probably no surprise the Olympic Museum hasn't hired a fundraising company, and probably won't. "Essentially, this is a board responsibility and a community responsibility, so that's the direction we're taking," he says.

Celeste says the museum board doesn't have a specific goal for starting the project, and adds, "From the moment I can say we've got the hard costs covered, it will be two and a half weeks to be in the ground. We'll line up Colorado Springs Utilities to do the underground work and line up [general contractor] G.E. Johnson crews to start digging the foundation."

Nor'wood Development Group has donated 1.7 acres of land for the museum west of the intersection of Vermijo Avenue and Sierra Madre Street, but so far the land is still held by an entity controlled by the owner of Nor'wood. (The site was cleared months ago.)

But no sweat, Celeste notes. "We have an agreement; the gift is there. There's been no reason to go ahead with the land transfer until we're ready pull the trigger on the groundbreaking."

And Chris Jenkins with Nor'wood confirms that, saying via email, "Our donation agreement with the museum provides for the title to transfer upon commencement of construction."
The museum is part of the City for Champions tourism venture that has been awarded $120.5 million in state sales tax rebates. 

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