- Pam Zubeck
- Antlers Park could see a major facelift.
Entrepreneur and hotelier Perry Sanders proposes converting Antlers Park behind his Antlers Hotel downtown into a sports venue in order to capture roughly $25 million in state money designated for the City for Champions tourism venture. The stadium would be used by the Colorado Springs Switchbacks soccer team.
Sanders' presentation to City Council on Jan. 8 ran into opposition from City Attorney Wynetta Massey and Mayor's Chief of Staff Jeff Greene. Massey argues a plat condition placed on the land in the late 1800s prevents the city from giving the property away, although Sanders isn't seeking the land. He and a partner just want to build on it. Besides, Sanders notes, two other tracts adjacent to the park that were similarly restricted have been given by the city to other entities, one of them a for-profit bank.
C4C includes four projects; the other three are the Olympic Museum now under construction, the Air Force Academy visitors center and the University of Colorado at Colorado Springs sports medicine center. Only the downtown sports arena is without a sponsor. Mayor John Suthers cites a study that found taxpayer money would be required to operate the venue, which he opposes.
Council President Richard Skorman urged his colleagues to keep the Sanders proposal alive, noting there's no other option at the moment for a stadium. "In my mind," Skorman said, "why take something off the table when we don't have anything else to replace it?"
Under the state's Colorado Economic Development Commission's resolution, the city must show "substantial commencement of work" by Dec. 13, 2018 — five years after C4C funding was approved up to $120.5 million, said the city's economic development officer Bob Cope. Cope also said the city could ask the state to extend that deadline.
Council decided to hold a closed executive session to receive legal advice before opening the door to Sanders' idea. Even if Council favors it, however, the mayor can designate where the state money is used.