Mayor Suthers is on the verge of a big announcement regarding the downtown stadium and arena project.
During a recent interview, Mayor John Suthers mentioned that a stadium and arena will be the centerpiece for downtown development. The stadium project, one of four funded through the Regional Tourism Act via state sales tax money and called City for Champions, has never gotten off the ground. (The other projects are a sports medicine center at the University of Colorado at Colorado Springs, an Air Force Academy visitors center and the downtown Olympic Museum now under construction.)
About $27 million of the $120.5 million award from the state Economic Development Commission (EDC) would apply to the stadium, but substantial progress has to be demonstrated by mid-December or the city will lose access to those state funds.
Turns out, an announcement is in the offing, likely on July 25.
Here's what Suthers had to say on the topic:
Indy: You mentioned the stadium. What can you tell us about the status of that project, and who are you meeting with to move this forward, and to what extent are you using your influence to spur progress on that project?
Well, obviously it’s a project I want to have happen, so I’ve met with a lot of people. I won’t tell you who I’m meeting with, because you would have a scoop that would make the rest of the city very angry, and we’ll make that known at a public event. When I say public event, all we’re going to say at that public event is, "Here’s the plan that we’re taking forward to the state EDC and asking them to approve."
I mean, it won’t be a done deal at that point, but we’re going to say, "Here’s how we’re going to do the arena, here’s how we’re going to do the stadium, and this is what we’re taking forth to the EDC and ask them to find substantial progress and let’s move forward." But, the whole key to the thing was to find substantial private investment and I think we found it.
Uh hum.... People are doing conceptual drawings. Architects are involved and all that kind of stuff.
Has the site been chosen?
Is it Citygate, located at the southeast corner of Sahwatch and Cimarron streets?
Citygate is certainly one of the things that’s been seriously considered.
It sits next to Drake Power Plant, however.
It does. Any of this downtown development, whether it be a stadium, whether it be a museum, I think, I can’t speak for the [City] Council and Board of Utilities, but I think that’s all weighing in favor of certainly not delaying [Drake's closure], with the date they’ve got in the sand right now is 2035. I would be surprised if it did not move up, and I’m pretty positive it’s not going to move back, because it would be of help to downtown development for Drake to close. Keep in mind when we’re talking closed, we’re only talking about power generation. There still would be a transmission facility. But it won’t have the smoke stack.
You’ve said no city tax money would be involved in the stadium project. Is that still part of this formula?
Yeah. Yeah. The only way any public dollars, any remotely public dollars would creep in, most of that area down there is in the urban renewal zone, so anybody who built would be able to take advantage of their tax in the urban renewal zone. Obviously there’s the state TIF [tax increment financing], right? As I say, that’s going to be $15 million between the two projects, present value [of the $27 million awarded], and then in that urban renewal zone, they would undoubtedly ask for some portion of the city sales tax. Typical has been 1.5 percent. University Village [urban renewal area] got 2. You’re not going to get a waiver of PSST [Public Safety Sales Tax].
(Suthers was referring to tax increment financing using local tax money, which allows developers to apply increases of sales tax revenues in excess of the existing base in the urban renewal area to public infrastructure that enables development of the project.)
But even a portion of city sales tax or property tax through TIF, that’s still local tax.
Yeah, but this is an area desperately needing redevelopment, and it’s an appropriate urban renewal area, and I don’t see that [TIF] as any public investment other than if anybody built down there they would have the advantage of that.
I guess you found a local investor or a group of local investors?
Not necessarily a local.