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Around the horn on a downtown Springs stadium

Want answers? Try that other guy



Two weeks after unveiling a survey described as a first step toward exploring the idea of a downtown baseball stadium, virtually everything about that survey remains a mystery, including who's running it, how much it will cost, when it will be completed, and whether the results will be publicly disclosed.

In fact, the two agencies most closely associated with the survey say they know little about it. Joe Raso, executive director of the Colorado Springs Regional Business Alliance, says the alliance was asked to participate by City Attorney Chris Melcher. Tony Ensor, Colorado Springs Sky Sox general manager, says it was Mayor Steve Bach who approached the team. Both say their only role was to provide e-mail addresses to which the poll's link was sent.

The city's communication office calls the survey "preliminary," but will not reveal any details. And requests for comment have gone unanswered by Melcher and other city officials — with the exception of procurement services manager Curt DeCapite, who says via e-mail, "I did some checking and the City did not do the contract."

So who did?

"It appears an outside agency," DeCapite continues, "possibly Skysox [sic] or Colorado Springs Regional Business Alliance."

As confusing is just how much stock the city plans to put into the data collected. While the survey asks sophisticated marketing questions about ticket pricing, club seats and the like, it's not scientific; for one thing, people apparently can take it as often as they like. Moreover, it doesn't ask two crucial questions: Where specifically the stadium should go, and whether it should be funded through private investment or with taxes.

Since taking office two years ago, Bach has often broached the idea of bringing a sports stadium downtown, to catalyze further development in the area. A 2012 Urban Land Institute study also suggested a sports venue in lower downtown, along with museums and science centers.

Raso references that study when asked if the alliance supports the stadium idea, but he stops short of endorsing it.

"We as an organization believe it's important to have a strong focus on development in downtown," he says, "but specific to this project, no, there's really no position or communication other than we think it's good this [survey] be done so we have good data from which to have a good discussion."

On May 13, he says, the Business Alliance e-mailed the survey link to 5,000 members and other contacts kept on file. Within a few days, he adds, the alliance saw that 1,900 people had opened the survey. "Whether or not they completed the survey," he adds, "we wouldn't know."

As for Ensor, he says the ballclub e-mailed its fan database of 40,000. He adds the Sky Sox are "flattered" but are "happy where we are" in Stetson Hills at Security Service Field, where the owners have invested more than $8 million in the last decade. Still, he says, "If the mayor feels it's something that would help the overall community, if it's something the community would like to see, and if it's something good for the Sky Sox, we'll definitely consider it. It's got to be a winner for everyone."

Yet another unknown is who drafted the survey. But it's worth noting that in 2012, Bach paid for services from Craig Umbaugh, a lawyer with expertise in urban redevelopment and all the issues attendant to constructing major sports facilities, including elections and financing, according to the Hogan Lovells law firm's website.

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