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USOC, part II

With LandCo's suit settled, the city can wrap up a new deal to solidify the Olympic presence, and this time it's public



Come mid-July, city and business leaders will gather once again to announce that they've done it. They've found a way to save the U.S. Olympic Committee.

And yes, you could be excused for feeling a wave of déjà vu — or even for singing a few lines of the old John Fogerty tune.

It's been a wild and crazy ride since March 2008, when the city told the public that a three-way, $53 million incentive package would keep the USOC in the Springs for at least 25 more years. Since then, citizens have seen a recession paralyze the plan. Also, of course, there were the various scandals, lawsuits and a criminal investigation.

So it may be a relief to know that this time around, a few things are going to be different.

"However it's done," Vice Mayor Larry Small says, "it will be done completely in a public setting."

City Councilor Scott Hente elaborates: LandCo Equity Partners, the developer in the original deal, is poised to settle its lawsuit against the city. Both sides have come to terms this week and as this issue went to press, attorneys were drafting an agreement that will be made completely public. So will the terms of the new retention deal that the city is negotiating with the USOC. Around mid-July, the public will get a chance to comment on both matters — before Council votes to approve or reject them.

According to several Councilors, the plan is for the city to issue bonds and take possession of the downtown USOC headquarters and the refurbished office building for individual sports. That means LandCo will be able to pay off its construction loan. Also, as part of any settlement or new deal, the USOC will sign a lease and agree to stay in town, according to Councilors Hente and Jerry Heimlicher.

It's rumored that LandCo will also likely get a little something extra, such as the bottom two floors of the headquarters building, as promised to them in the original contract.

Meanwhile, the city is well into negotiations for a new deal with the USOC. It's no secret LandCo will not be paying for $16 million in Olympic Training Center improvements, as agreed upon in the original contract. That means someone else must pick up the tab.

That means the city likely could be paying more than the $27 million it originally planned. But it's also probable that private donors eventually will cover at least part of the costs. The city has been courting wealthy philanthropists since the first deal was drafted.

If new negotiations are successful, they will prevent the USOC from hunting for a new hometown. And according to Jim Didion, the USOC's main negotiator, that's remained a possibility all along.

"We're on the sideline just waiting to see what comes," Didion said late last week. "If something doesn't happen sometime soon, we'll probably have to consider other options."

The original three-way, $53 million USOC deal suffered one kick in the pants after another: LandCo wasn't able to cough up $16 million for the OTC project, as promised, and now is the subject of a 4th Judicial District Attorney investigation. The city never issued bonds to pay for the downtown headquarters building. Construction companies and contractors haven't been paid. The USOC hasn't signed a lease. LandCo has sued both the city and the USOC (it recently settled with the USOC). And the mayor is being investigated on an ethics complaint that alleges his business ties with LandCo's Ray Marshall constituted a conflict of interest.

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