Deal — or no deal? USOC — or USnoC?
City Council made a deal to keep Their Olympian Majesties in Colorado Springs — and now they have to do some quick repair work to keep everything from falling apart.
Unpleasant Reality No. 1: The U.S. Olympic Committee’s first priority is not a new office building or improvements to the Olympic Training Center, or even winning medals at the Olympic Games. Think Coca-Cola, Gillette, McDonald’s or Donald Trump — it’s all about the brand.
Those five interlocking rings are the only real assets of the USOC, and the organization cannot allow them to be devalued by the petty problems of a small-time developer in a small-time city.
Unpleasant reality No. 2: LandCo’s lawsuit was a brilliant tactical move. Ray Marshall served notice upon the city and the USOC that he can’t be ignored, forced out or replaced just because it might be convenient for his erstwhile partners.
He might not be able to perform as originally agreed — but then again, neither the city nor the USOC have adhered to the letter and spirit of the contracts.
Unpleasant reality No. 3: If the city wants to keep the USOC, the deal has to be credibly and definitively restructured within a month, or the USOC will withdraw and look for a new hometown, costing the community as many as 3,000 jobs, not to mention the many other tangible and intangible benefits of the organization’s presence.
So, in the interest of saving councilmembers from the tiresome task of making a new plan, I’ve made one for them. It’s about as palatable as two liters of halflightly before a colonoscopy (and if you don’t know what I’m talking about, you’re fortunate!), but too bad — here goes!
The city will have to finance the completion of the USOC headquarters building by immediately issuing the certificates of participation (COPs) that it had originally agreed to issue last November. That’ll permit Marshall to expand his construction loan and finish the building. Let the lawyers work out the contractor liens, cost overruns (it’s a construction project, so of course there are cost overruns!) and all the other details.
And while you’re at it, issue the full amount of COPs authorized in the original resolution — not $27 million as generally reported, but $32 million (paragraph 72, page 9 of LandCo lawsuit). You’ll need it, because …
LandCo and Marshall can’t raise the $16 million promised to the USOC for improvements to the Olympic Training Center. That’s because Marshall’s plan, dicey even then, is no longer viable. Too bad — that means the city’s on the hook, unless it wants to risk saying bye-bye to the USOC.
So take the extra $5 million, add a couple of million from El Pomar Foundation, twist arms at the state for another million, and you’re halfway there. That’s where the real fun begins — you could bite the bullet and authorize another $8 million in COPs, but that’d really make the taxpayers howl. Instead, you might just …
Kick this radioactive can down the road a year or two, and try to persuade the USOC to sit still for a phased project — half now, half in two years. Kind of like the deal I worked out with my credit card company, except that I improved my credit thereby.
Don’t admit to anything. You didn’t just get your behind handed to you on a silver (actually, make that zinc) platter — you reaffirmed your partnership. Take the high road — benignly wish Marshall every success, and profusely shed crocodile tears if his legal/financial troubles mount. And you might even try to make the USOC cough up the money they owe Marshall for common area maintenance fees on the space they’re currently occupying at 19 N. Tejon. And if Marshall manages, through a combination of chutzpah, cunning and luck to pull this off, we should all celebrate, especially …
Those of his former associates/investors who are currently taking or contemplating legal action against him. Remember, a rich, solvent, impossibly arrogant Marshall might actually settle your beefs and pay you to go away. If he’s broke and disgraced, call off your lawyers … you might as well sue me, and see how far that gets you.
And finally, stop being so self-righteous (I’m shocked! shocked! That there’s gambling going on!). You screwed up, the USOC screwed up, Marshall screwed up. You’re a bunch of clowns, and that’s fine. You can still pull this off, cover yourself with glory and look a lot smarter than you deserve to look. Right now, you might look like the kid who jumped into the cesspool in “Slumdog Millionaire” — but, as you might recall, he triumphed in the end.
And so, I fervently believe, will you. Otherwise, we’ll have to rename that section of Union Boulevard now known as the “Olympic Promenade.”
How about “Boulevard of Broken Dreams?”
John Hazlehurst can be reached at John.Hazlehurst@csbj.com or 227-5861.