Columns » Ranger Rich

Changes at The Broadmoor

Ranger Rich



You can imagine the giddiness last week at our village's Gazette-brand daily "newspaper" — it currently has more circulation problems than Dick "Here Comes That Funny Feeling in My Left Arm Again" Cheney — when a rumor swirled that the 34th-richest man in America was buying The Broadmoor resort and a newspaper.

Finally, the Gazette (motto: "Still Surfing the Wave of Innovation That Was Steve Pope") would have an owner with actual money and would be out from under a strategic management team that consists of two monkeys, a prairie dog and four butterflies. (Breaking news: Editorial writer and staunch Second Amendment supporter Wayne Laugesen just gunned down the butterflies, claiming they lunged at him.)

Anyway, turns out 71-year-old rich person Philip Anschutz of Denver is indeed buying The Broadmoor. This is great news, guaranteeing that we, the villagers, will continue to be able to pay $87 for a domestic beer to wash down our $126 grilled cheese sandwich.

That was just a joke. We can't even get in. The only Colorado Springs resident allowed inside the fenced Broadmoor compound is Bill Hybl, the El Pomar Foundation boss, former U.S. Olympic Committee president, one-time special counsel to president Ronald Reagan and ex-U.S. representative to the United Nations General Assembly. And even he is strip-searched at the gate.

Personal Broadmoor footnote: I tried to get in recently and was politely turned away. And by politely turned away, I mean I'm writing this column with Hans, the resort's German shepherd, still attached to my left leg. (I'm lucky. Hans was trained to go after the genitals. Fortunately, I'm married and am not allowed to take those along when I go out.)

So all of the Gazette employees gathered — the meeting was held inside a MINI Cooper automobile — for the big announcement. And it came: Anschutz, with an estimated net worth of $7.5 billion, was indeed buying a newspaper, along with The Broadmoor. But the newspaper is the Oklahoman in Oklahoma City.

(I'd make a joke here about Oklahoma, but that's where my wife is from. And frankly, I'd still like to have access to my testicles even if it's on this limited basis.)

When the Anschutz news came last week, disappointed Gazette newsroom workers loped back to their desks. But, in a tribute to their professionalism, they quickly returned to the business of preparing the next day's front-page story: "JAPAN SURRENDERS!!"

Along with the Oklahoman newspaper and The Broadmoor, Anschutz also bought the Manitou & Pike's Peak Railway Co., which since 1891 has used a cog railway system to take people from Kansas and Nebraska to a fascinating place where they cannot breathe.

The Broadmoor — the only property ever to receive the coveted five-star rating for 51 consecutive years — will still be run by president and CEO Steve Bartolin, who was, as my mind continues to wander, an actual, very talented, left-handed pitcher in the Detroit Tigers organization in the early 1970s. (Bartolin was released because of "philosophical differences" with management: He insisted that if they said the cheap ballpark peanuts were "lovingly hand-roasted by monks in a remote Peruvian village," they could get $100 per bag.)

Historical notes: The Broadmoor began as a dairy farm in 1880. The next year, current Colorado Springs mayor Steve Bach was hired as an apprentice milker. The farm was soon taken over by James Pourtales, a Prussian count. His personal best was getting to "20," when he ran out of fingers and toes.

Pourtales built a casino on the site. Gambling became a big part of Colorado Springs, and remains so even today as motorists wager on whether the potholes will snap an axle or just flatten the tire.

But in 1916, Spencer Penrose bought the place and created the landmark resort with its pink stucco exterior, dramatic marble staircase, stunning chandeliers and breathtaking ceilings that the guests still look at today as they wander around with their noses in the air.

And while we, the villagers, can't actually get in anymore, I'll be glad to give you a walking tour of the resort from outside the fence.

It's a big place. Bring a sandwich. And maybe a biscuit for Hans.

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