Carmichael: Quizno’s race an ‘enormous responsibility’

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I caught up earlier this week with Chris Carmichael (he wasn’t on his bike) and asked him about his role in helping bring a stage of the coming Quizno’s Pro Challenge cycling race to the Springs. Carmichael, of course, is a former Olympic athlete, the owner of Carmichael Training Solutions, and Lance Armstrong’s cycling coach. The race is scheduled for Aug. 22-28, 2011, and will likely generate millions of dollars in economic impact to the city.

Hosting the opening stage of the race, he said, means a couple of important things for Colorado Springs. Here’s what he said in an e-mail:

“A major cycling stage race is a big production. The race is contested by more than a dozen teams and each team arrives with buses and support vehicles and large support staffs. And these people arrive a few days before the race begins, stay in hotel rooms, eat in local restaurants, etc. The athletes competing in the QPC are some of the biggest names in the sport of cycling, meaning there will be media from around the world here covering the beginning of the race.

“What’s more, the race is on a Monday, meaning Colorado Springs has the unique opportunity to create additional events on the Saturday and Sunday preceding the race that could draw more people to the city and engage them more deeply in our local economy.

“We’re still in the planning stages, but we’re considering additional events to coincide with the race. With the USOC, U.S. Olympic Training Center, and more than 20 national governing bodies in Colorado Springs, we’re looking well beyond the race itself for ways to maximize the positive economic impact this event can have on our city.

“Colorado Springs is also where tens of thousands of America’s bravest military men and women gain the fitness and skill to defend our country. Hosting the opening stage of a world-class sporting event, in its inaugural year, is an enormous responsibility. But this is a city of champions, and this event is an opportunity to show the world what the people of Colorado Springs can do.”

Farewell to ‘Mr. Tourism’

More than 500 people gathered at Cheyenne Mountain Resort this week to bid adieu to Terry Sullivan, who’s retiring as CEO of the Colorado Springs Convention and Visitors Bureau at the end of this year.

His 20-year tenure at the bureau is unusual. Most people in a similar position stay about five years.

Sullivan made headlines throughout the state and the nation for his activities in promoting both the city of Colorado Springs, and the state.

I spoke with Sullivan this week, as he reflected on the challenges he overcame and the accomplishments that will mark his legacy.

In 1990, when he arrived, without any experience at a CVB, the city was beginning to rebound from being the foreclosure capital of the nation.

“I came at a time when truly my success was very likely as long as I could learn the job and what was required of it,” Sullivan said.

During his first three years, he realized one of the biggest challenges would be the local TABOR, or taxpayers bill of rights, laws that curtailed fundraising for the bureau. In 1993, the situation worsened when statewide TABOR laws dismantled the state tourism program.

“We went from a 21-person state tourism office with an annual budget of $11 million to zero. It completely disbanded itself within 60 days,” he recalled.

All of Colorado’s 1-800 phone lines for tourism and promotional efforts were cut.

Sullivan launched into action, co-founding Colorado Association of Destination Marketing Organizations, or CADMO, in 1994.

“It was an unusual feat to bring 19 competitors together and persuade them to work collectively to benefit Colorado,” Sullivan said. “But I found it incomprehensible that any state would allow this to happen.”

He persuaded those 19 competitors to each donate $10,000 to reconnect the phone lines.

Another of his accomplishments came in 1993, when he was instrumental in bringing the issue of funding revenue bonds for a new airport terminal to a public vote. The federal government then funded a long, modern runway,

It’s safe to say the Colorado Springs Municipal Airport would scarcely be on the map without this feat.

In 1997, he served an integral role in the approval, funding and building of the World Arena.

Nearly a decade later, in 2006, Sullivan and Will Temby brought together 10  chamber leaders to create the Pikes Peak Regional Business Partnership, known today as the Southern Colorado Business Partnership.

On March 2, 2011, Sullivan will be the first person from Colorado Springs to be inducted into the Denver and Colorado Tourism Hall of Fame. Past inductees include Denver mayors Wellington Webb and Federico Pena, Gov. Bill Owens, and the Adolph Coors family.

Rebecca Tonn can be reached at rebecca.tonn@csbj.com or 719-329-5229.