City of Colorado Springs
Digital rendering of the proposed outdoor downtown stadium.
The city's new stadium project, which has been in the works for years and generated debate over funding, will consist of two separate facilities — an outdoor downtown stadium that will host the Colorado Springs Switchbacks soccer team and an event center for the Colorado College ice hockey team, the city announced July 25.
The Colorado Sports and Events Center project, one of four elements of the City for Champions plan, will be funded by a mix of public and private money.
State Regional Tourism Act sales tax dollars to the amount of $27.7 million are designated for the stadium. The Colorado Springs Switchbacks will contribute $10 million, and Weidner Apartment Homes will pay $40 million to build an adjacent mixed-use development project, according to a statement from the city. The total cost for the stadium and development is estimated at $60 million.
The indoor arena will cost around $39 million, and will be paid for by $9.2 million from the state and the rest from Colorado College.
“Today’s announcement is the culmination of a lot of hard work and incredible collaboration between a number of private partners," Mayor John Suthers is quoted in the statement. "While this project represents a significant benefit to our city’s economy and cultural and sports offerings, we have remained committed to the desire of our voters to accomplish this feat through private partnerships and investments and not with local general fund tax money.”
The stadium, which will accommodate audiences of up to 10,000 for sporting events and up to 20,000 for concert events, will be located on the CityGate property downtown, bordered by Cimarron Street to the North, Moreno Avenue to the South, Sierra Madre Street to the West and Sahwatch Street to the east, according to the city's statement.
The Switchbacks will allow Weidner Apartment Homes to name the stadium and assume a minority ownership position at the soccer team, Greg Cerbana, the company's vice president of public relations and government affairs, said at a press conference July 25.
The Switchbacks' current home at Weidner Field has a 5,000-seat capacity, and average attendance
was around 3,500 last season, according to James Ragain, the team's executive vice president.
Josh Keller, vice president of business development for United Soccer League, pointed out the league's growth — nationwide, attendance increased 50 percent since last year, to an average of 5,000 visitors per game — and lauded the city's support of the stadium project.
"USL views soccer-specific stadiums as one of the key drivers of growth," Keller said. "We’ve witnessed how a new stadium can energize both a city’s fan base, as well as the local community."
City of Colorado Springs
Digital rendering of the proposed Robson Arena.
The indoor arena will feature 3,000 permanent seats. Named for Colorado College alumnus Edward J. Robson, it's planned for the block bordered by Nevada Avenue and Cache La Poudre, Tejon and Dale streets.
Representatives from Colorado College emphasized that the arena would continue the school's commitment to sustainability with environmentally friendly architecture, and would include state-of-the-art equipment.
"While it’s been a great two decades at Broadmoor Arena, we need to recognize that Colorado College has sponsored Division 1 hockey for almost 80 years but has never had an on-campus home of its own," added Ken Ralph, the school's director of athletics. "And our student body has never had the on-campus athletic experience our peer schools enjoy."
The city's proposal isn't final, and still has to go before the state's Economic Development Commission for approval in September.
"Our downtown...is undergoing a dynamic transformation, and these projects will only add to the vitality of the heart of our city," Suthers said at a press conference July 25.
City and college officials say they've looked into parking and traffic feasibility near the two facilities. Bob Cope, the city's economic development manager, says the city is "strongly looking into" building a 900-stall parking structure for the stadium across the street from the Olympic Museum. There's currently 8,000 spots within three-quarters of a mile of the stadium, he says.
Colorado College commissioned a parking and transportation study that showed even when the students were in session, there were 50 percent more spaces than necessary for the proposed project, Ralph said in an email. He added that arena parking would primarily be college lots, with some street parking. The college doesn't plan to build a parking structure.
Ralph says the school would also run shuttles to downtown from "a few different spots" and provide incentives for people to use ride-share apps.
"Even though we have enough parking we would still like to utilize multiple options to get people to the site to stay as congestion-free as possible and provide a positive experience for people coming to events," he wrote.
Jeff Greene, the city's chief of staff, said planners believed changing traffic patterns on Cascade Avenue could actually "enhance" the project.
The city plans to downsize several streets
in the Old North End neighborhood, including:
• narrowing Cascade Avenue this year to two lanes (from four), adding buffered bike lanes and parking in each direction.
• narrowing Fontanero Street, between El Paso Street and Wood Avenue, to two lanes, adding buffered bike lanes, and a center turn lane in 2019.
• narrowing Weber Street, between Colorado Avenue and Jackson Street, to two lanes, with a center turn lane and bike lanes in 2020.
The City for Champions project, pursued by local leaders since 2013, consists of four planned projects: The United States Olympic Museum, Colorado Sports and Event Center, USAFA Gateway Visitor Center and William J. Hybl Sports Medicine and Performance Center.
In an interview last week with the Independent
, Suthers mentioned
that tax-increment financing could play a role in the project. (That local tax money 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.)
However, there was no mention of that type of financing in the official announcement.
More details on funding from the city:
Economic impact of the Sports and Event Center project is forecasted at $32 million annually and $1 billion over 30 years. The project is also estimated to generate $1 million dollars in new city sales tax revenue each year and is anticipated to generate over 650 new jobs.
This project impact is a vital part of the combined impact of the four City for Champions projects, which are forecasted to:
· Boost the region’s $1.35 billion annual tourism industry
· Attract about 1.2 million visitors each year
· Add more than 500,000 new out-of-state visitors annually
· Increase retail sales by $140 million each year
· Increase gross metropolitan product by $217 million annually
· Add $4.4 million in new sales tax revenue for the city annually
· Add $2 million in new sales tax revenue for the county annually
· Leverage a $120.5 million state tourism improvement rebate
· Allow 23 local TEAM USA National Governing Bodies to host Pre-Olympic and World Championship events here
City for Champions will brand Colorado Springs as Olympic City USA, and invite national/international sports performance and medicine entities to the city–to compete in events and do business.
The State RTA funding will be approximately $27.7 million over 30 years. Two-thirds of the revenue, approximately $18.5M, will be dedicated to the outdoor stadium and will support a bond of approximately $10M. One-third of the revenue, or approximately $9.2M, will be dedicated to the indoor arena and will be distributed to Colorado College as the revenue is received. Private investment from the project partners will make up the difference to complete the projects.
The cost of the outdoor stadium is estimated at approximately $20 million plus a mixed use development project costing approximately $40 million for a total of $60 million. In addition to the $10 million in state RTA bond funding, the Colorado Springs Switchbacks will be contributing another $10 million and Weidner Apartment Homes $40 million.
The indoor events center will cost approximately $39 million with $9.2 million funded by the state RTA bond proceeds. The balance (approx. $30 million) will be provided by Colorado College.