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USOC: city's new magnet


Finally, slowly, quietly, the pieces have been falling into place.

The deal isn't completely done, but the U.S. Olympic Committee, from all indications, has locked in on a new site for its headquarters in Colorado Springs.

The result, probably finished sometime in early 2009, will create a new focal point for the city, at an intersection sure to become an instant downtown magnet:

Tejon and Colorado.

Actually, the office-building project now known as Stratton Pointe (formerly the Design Center), is located at 27 S. Tejon St., according to the tax assessor's information.

Just don't be surprised if that mailing address changes at some point, given the USOC's flair for the dramatic, and the precedent of its changing the current complex address from 1750 E. Boulder St. to 1 Olympic Plaza.

No problem. Let the Olympic folks have whatever street address they want as long as it's followed by Colorado Springs. Heck, while we're at it, why not convince the Postal Service to give 'em their own ZIP code?

We've been alluding to most of this for months, and more often than not, the hints from various sources have been strongly optimistic. However, between some of those updates, we're hearing now, the outcome was anything but certain.

At this point, it isn't about breaking news anymore. In fact, just last week a Gazette story mentioned the Tejon site as possibly being the USOC's new home.

Let's take that a few steps further here. If the Olympic Committee stays and we're not hearing anything to the contrary now that will be the location.

The earlier coverage brought up a skybridge over Colorado Avenue, connecting the Stratton Pointe building which would become the latest incarnation of Olympic House to the city's spacious new parking garage.

That skybridge, which will be the first one crossing an actual thoroughfare in Colorado Springs, offers far more potential than simply serving as a convenient, covered walkway. Designed, constructed and spruced up properly, it could (or will, if you prefer) become a striking landmark, identifying the Olympic presence to residents and visitors alike. There are ways to make such a structure stand out impressively without overdoing it, and the guess here is that the right people are way ahead of us on that part.

That doesn't even count for the building itself, or the top of it. One can only imagine the project's architects would relish and be inspired by the task of incorporating the Olympic rings in some appropriate, highly visible manner.

Colorado Springs has more reason to feel pride in the USOC and the Olympic movement than in any of the city's other "worldly" possessions (in other words, those not considered natural wonders). With the USOC's headquarters in such a prime location, it should inspire those involved with other aspects of downtown to press forward, no matter what the economic climate might be.

This also will open up more room for much-needed expansion inside the current Olympic Complex, with additional living and training facilities for the athletes coming as soon as possible.

No, it's not official yet. As one source was saying last week, the different parties are "still in the final stages of the pre-nup agreement." After it's done, when the Olympic people are ready, we'll have the grand announcement with more details.

Here's all we need to know for now: Everybody will win.

First, of course, the USOC will win (not to mention its staff members who, from all reports, weren't excited about possibly leaving). If the Olympic Committee was to keep its headquarters here, the idea of moving downtown was perfect for all involved, starting with the exposure in a high-traffic area. It'll also make for increased competition among restaurants and other businesses, and it should enhance the chances for another high-quality hotel nearby.

What was all that talk about the USOC looking at other cities? It wasn't just talk. It was real, and someday the details will come out that if the Springs' leaders hadn't pushed as hard as possible, we could've suffered a sad, painful defeat.

Instead, the Olympic presence appears on the threshold of assuming an even more prominent place in the city's consciousness for years to come.

And if you want to call it the best thing that ever has happened to downtown Colorado Springs, go right ahead.

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