BUSINESS JOURNAL/WELLS FARGO ROUNDTABLE DISCUSSION
May 17, 2011
4 South Cascade Avenue
Colorado Springs, Colorado 80903
Reported by: Martha Loomis, CSR and Colorado Notary Public.
Jim Harris: Wells Fargo Bank
Tim Leigh: Partner, Hoff & Leigh and Colorado Springs City Council
Doug Price: President-CEO, Colorado Springs Convention & Visitors Bureau
Meredith Vaughan: President, Vladimir Jones and Board Member of Pikes Peak Cycling Society (USA Pro Challenge.)
Karen Evers : President, Jack Quinn’s Running Club
John Dunker: Colorado Springs EDC Manager – Business Industry Team
Mike Moran: Colorado Springs Sports Corp, Senior Media Consultant
(Whereupon the following proceedings commenced at 4:12 PM.)
MS. GOBOS: Good afternoon, and welcome to the Colorado Springs Business Journal and Wells Fargo Leadership Forum.
I’m Kathleen Gobos, the new publisher of the Colorado Publishing Company. And I apologize for this microphone. We publish the Colorado Springs Business Journal, the Daily Transcript, and the Colorado Springs Military Newspaper Group.
Thank you for coming today. Thank you to our sponsor and partner Wells Fargo. Our topic today is a lively discussion on leveraging Colorado Springs sports and fitness culture. We’ll be roaming around the room with wireless microphones. Please join in the conversation. And Jim Harris will be moderating, so take it away, Jim.
MR. HARRIS: Thank you, Kathleen.
First of all, my name is Jim Harris. I’m the manager for the Wells Fargo Southern Colorado Business Banking Group. And I’m also going to be the referee of the event today so I think maybe I shouldn’t be in a suit jacket. So if it’s okay I’ll change into a jersey, although it’s not quite a referee jersey. Let me do that first.
MR. LEIGH: Take it off.
THE FLOOR: All right!
MR. HARRIS: First of all, welcome to everyone. We just have a terrific turnout today. And I want to welcome everyone on behalf of Colorado Business Journal, our partner in this great event, and also on behalf of the Colorado Springs Business Journal and the 835 Wells Fargo employees who call Colorado Springs home. Welcome to our fifth Wells Fargo/Colorado Springs Business Journal Leadership Forum.
We have selected a diverse group of presenters to talk about Leveraging Colorado Springs Sports and Fitness Culture to attract a highly educated and active workforce, and the employers who want to employ them.
You will recognize some familiar faces and possibly some new faces that make a unique contribution to our sports and fitness culture. The EDC, OSOC, El Pomar, Sports Corp., Chamber of Commerce, UCCS, and multiple other organizations are doing their parts to promote our sports and fitness culture, sports and fitness economy.
But it is up to everyone in this room to promote the culture that helps these organizations tell our story. So you are the leaders in this effort.
Our hope is that when you leave this afternoon you’ll have a better understanding of what Colorado Springs has to offer, and can tell this story to your out-of-town friends and business associates who may consider visiting or maybe even relocating their businesses here. Most importantly, we want you to connect with others in the room who share similar interests, and get involved. Together we can move this city forward.
Before we get started, let me review how this will work today. First, I will introduce our panelists. Second, I’ll ask some questions of each panelist to get us started. Each panelist will have about five to seven minutes.
After you have heard from each of the panelists, you will have an opportunity to ask questions. You can either write a question on one of the note cards provided — we have a couple of people. Matt Lieva, stand up if you don’t mind. He will pass out note cards to ask questions. And I think also John Cibalsky, where are you? If you feel like you’d rather write down your question and have them passed to the front, that’s great. And Sue and Kathleen from the Business Journal, they will be roaming with microphones later in the question and answer session, and be helping answer questions there as well. Time permitting, the panelists will also have an opportunity to ask questions of each other.
So let’s get started. First let me introduce our panel.
Tim Leigh is a newly elected member of our city council. Tim Leigh and his now retired former partner, Bob Hoff, founded a small real estate company in 1987, Hoff & Leigh. In fact, you may have noticed some of their red and white signs around town. That business is now being run by Holly and RD, his kids, which has freed up time, which frees up Tim so he can pursue his other passions, one of which is riding his bike fast and recklessly. Hoff & Leigh has a long history of community involvement with multiple charity organizations, and helping raise millions of dollars for public donation over the years. And notwithstanding my previous comment, Tim is an avid safe cyclist, and has been an advocate of creating systems of shared roadways where cyclists and automobiles recognize and respect each others’ space on the public roadway.
Next we have Doug Price. He brings 34 years of career experience to us, having worked extensively in the corporate world for Marriott. He has been an entrepreneur with his own business, has served as an association executive with the Destination Marketing Association in Washington DC, and is now the president and CEO of the Colorado Springs Convention and Visitors Bureau. He is a recognized public speaker, and the author of three books: License to Sell, a book on high tech selling in a high tech world, License to Serve, a how-to guide for creating exceptional customer service, and Change It!, a book for helping people change themselves and others.
Next we’ll have Meredith Vaughan. She’s president of Vladimir Jones, the state’s third largest women-owned business, and one of the top midsized advertising agencies in the Rocky Mountain West. She is also a board member of the Colorado Springs Cycling Society, and on the Local Organizing Committee for the USA Pro Cycling Challenge staged in Colorado Springs.
Next we’ll have Karen Evers speak. She’s a marathon runner who has been the president of Jack Quinn’s Running Club for three and a half years. As a busy mom with two boys, she works at Boulder Running Company, where she analyzes how people run to get them in the correct shoe.
Next we’ll have John Dunker, who’s a committee co-chair and board member of The Home Front Cares, a local charity that supports the families of our deployed troops. He’s been active with the Sports Health and Wellness Team at the EDC for two years, and recently became the volunteer manager of the EDC Target Industry Teams.
And last we’ll have Mike Moran, who was the voice of the United States Olympic Committee for a quarter century, and one of the most recognized public relations executives in the world during that time. He’s now a sports media consultant and public speaker with a terrific list of clients. Mike knows our city and its sports sector well since he came to the city in 1978 with the United States Olympic Committee as it left New York to relocate to Colorado Springs. He also was the chief spokesman and communications strategist for the 2012 Olympic Games bid by New York City.
Now for the first question. Tim, there has been a buzz locally about making the streets safer for bike travel. You have been raising money to privately fund the cost of implementing the city’s first Sharrow route. Can you explain what is a Sharrow? And where is your proposed route?
MR. LEIGH: Yes, I can. Thank you. First of all I want to recognize one of my co-councilors, Brandy. Brandy, would you stand up?
MR. LEIGH: There’s certainly a new buzz at city hall. I will tell you that behind that closed door there’s — a bad microphone — a tremendous amount of new energy. And I think you’re going to have a council going to really advocate policy that’s good for the City, you’re going to have a very unified council, and a council that’s not going to stand for process but going to look for progress.
So the Sharrow project is the very first step in that pathway that we’re trying to undertake; the first step of a lot of steps. Sharrow is a really simple little stencil stamp that gets placed on the roadway. The Sharrow project became somewhat controversial over the last six weeks or so because some folks thought it was something greater than it really is.
It’s simply a stencil stamp that goes on a roadway that indicates a direction of traffic. It changes no laws. It’s a stencil that looks like a bike with a couple of Army sergeant chevrons on it.
The idea is that the cyclists are supposed to go chevron — or Sharrow to Sharrow to Sharrow. And it doesn’t change anything.
And folks in the community — there were some folks that thought that all of a sudden we were going to be overrun by crazy cyclists like I am, nine abreast, which you can’t really do, and create all kinds of ruckus on the roadways, and that’s just not true.
The actual Sharrow itself is a stencil stamp. The route that I got on, which was — I asked Nick Gledich, who’s one of my No. 1 advocates at the City in the Engineering Department actually to refresh me how we got on this topic. He said that – “I’d seen an e-mail.”
I called him up and said, “Hey, Nick, why can’t we have a route for cyclists that goes from Memorial Park through the downtown through Old Colorado City out to Manitou Springs and back, and why can’t we make that a safe way for folks to ride their bikes.”
He goes, “Well, we can do that. That’s a great idea.”
I said, “What’s the limiting factor?”
He goes, “Well, first of all, you’re not elected; you can’t say anything.”
So it was before I became an elected official. I became elected, and then we had the conversation again. He said, “The problem is that there’s no money in the budget for that project.”
So I said, “Well, I’ll go raise the $106 per Sharrow.” As I look around this room I can tell you that there’s several of you folks, both as individuals and businesses, who’ve committed and donated and sent money to the Sharrow project so we’re nearly there with the full raise.
The Sharrow project is going to become a reality.
That route will be designated sometime we hope before Memorial Day weekend so you’ll be able to start at Memorial Park, ride with people in presumed safety through Memorial Park through the downtown, west on Colorado Avenue through Old Colorado City. And you might stop and have a beer or breakfast or something, or buy something, and then continue on to Manitou Springs which, by the way, interestingly enough, Manitou Springs, when we first approached them said, you know, We don’t really want Sharrows in Manitou Springs. That was staff to staff.
Yesterday I had the opportunity to meet with the mayor of Manitou Springs.
I said, “What’s up with you clowns? You know, you need Sharrows.”
His response was, “What are you talking about?”
I said, “My guy told me your guy said you didn’t want Sharrows.”
He goes, “What’s a Sharrow?”
I said, “It’s a stamp on the ground.”
He goes, “Well, we want Sharrows. How do we get them?”
I said, “Talk to your staff, and you pay for them.”
And he goes, “Well, we’re in.”
So Manitou is now in. They’re going to have Sharrows, and the round trip is assured.
So it’s a simple stamp that goes on the road. The roadway has been designated. We’re moving forward because of my co-councilors and my other cohorts at city hall. And we’re very excited about the Sharrow project.
MR. HARRIS: All right. Thank you, Tim. Did you also want to share a little bit about your vision for shared roadway cycling for Colorado Springs?
MR. LEIGH: I think it’s terrible when you ask me to talk because I’m prone to say too much. But I would like to share my vision of Colorado Springs. It’s very simple. I’ve been working on, as many of you may or may not know, I started out as the very first mayoral candidate a long time ago but figured out that, you know, I couldn’t afford that race; that’s like big money.
And of course I’m, now I’ve got a job at city hall and I’m getting paid a lot of money so I can actually afford to be the mayor.
But my vision for Colorado Springs is very simple. It’s to enhance the culture in Colorado Springs so that it naturally attracts the young, creative class. That’s a statement that needs to be said over and over and over again. And I can recite chapter and verse why it’s important.
People that don’t understand that statement might look at it at the epidermis level and not get into the meat, and not understand how important that young, creative class is to a vibrant economy.
We know if we draw those people to Colorado Springs that businesses will come here naturally too, and we will not have to incentivize them. So if we can figure out a way to attract that young, creative class to Colorado Springs – and today by the way talking about sports is very important to that process. Young folks love to be involved in sports; that’s why this conversation is so critical and so important.
But other things we can do. A trolley system, which I think would be awesome. You know, not to pitch this over to Rich, but it’s a great idea. Things we can do: Take advantage of the natural amenities that we have in Colorado Springs, assets like our 85 miles of on-street bike lanes; our 118 miles of urban bike trails, our 61 miles of unpaved mountain bike trails.
Assets like Pikes Peak, Garden of the Gods, the Manitou Springs incline, 200 miles of multi use trail system, half of it’s paved and half of it’s unpaved.
I believe that a great community is built on the back of five things: Public education, and this today, sports, wellness, and cultural diversity, and rides on the foundation of a modern infrastructure. This is not rocket science what I’m talking about, but it’s a conversation we need to have over and over and over.
So it’s my vision that we coalesce around these elements and create an amazingly interesting environment that naturally attracts young, creative folks, because when they come, businesses naturally follow to employ them, and thereby create a good local economy.
Someone says, How are you going to do that? How we get there is really simple. By believing in ourselves, trusting in each other, and investing in our community.
If we do those things we’re going to be a great place. We’ve got a great start. We need to keep this conversation going and we need to work together.
MR. HARRIS: Thank you, Tim. One of the things that we’ve learned from visiting, the Chamber sponsored trips over the last three years and we’ve learned from other cities, and one of the things I think we’ve all learned is you have to promote what already exists. You really can’t invent something new; you need to promote what already exists in your city.
And I’m going to skip to Karen Evers now who’s going to talk about one of the wonderful kind of grassroots events that we have every Tuesday night in downtown, the Jack Quinn Running Club. So Karen, your question. What do you think made Jack Quinn’s Running Club so successful? Tell us a little bit about that.
MS. EVERS: Thank you, Jim. If you go outside right now in the next half hour or so you’re going to see hundreds of people coming down Cascade and turning left onto Pikes Peak heading back to an Irish pub called Jack Quinn’s Irish Pub and Alehouse.
It started back in June of 2006. And I believe the way that Ryan Shininger, the founder of Jack Quinn’s Running Club, made it so successful that I took over is just from the way he marketed it in the town. He marketed towards young professionals.
He went to businesses downtown and said, Hey, we’re going to have this running club on a Tuesday night at 6 PM. Can you just spread the word?
So the first night it was successful. We had 71 people in a town that didn’t have something to say, Hey, let’s do this running club on a Tuesday night in a social setting. So the first night was 71 people.
It went up from there into the couple 200s, 300s by the end of the summer, that first summer, and of course slowed down during the winter.
Then people got the word out. Hey, this is the social organization that is free; I don’t have to pay money to go to it; I don’t have to be a runner.
Jeff Owsley, one of my good friends, he wasn’t a runner. His doctor said, Hey, you’re 42. You have a heart problem. You need to do something. And in saying that he went and ran.
Today he has lost over 50 pounds, ran the Boston Marathon with me last year. And never in his life thought he would do that.
There are so many success stories with, you know, an 86-year-old man named Milo, he still runs. He runs with us. We have him. My children, just to throw them out there ’cause I’m a mom and I have to do that. But as my children grow up and they run, you know, maybe a big block or not even that far, but there are many other children, kids on bikes. There’s dogs now that can sign in, and earn a little free thing after they run ten times that has made this successful.
Through the years of course we all know the economy sort of went south. And I think honestly that helped with the running boom. The club in probably by May of 2008 saw higher numbers. And then throughout that fall and winter as well.
So not to say that it’s successful because the economy went down, but it’s a free thing where people got together, they network, they hang out they have a pint maybe after they run.
The social aspect of it with people moving into town, a lot of military, What do I do on a Tuesday night? Am I going to sit home and eat pizza and watch TV? Or is there something I can do in the city?
From Jack Quinn’s Running Club other clubs in this town have also sparked, so I can talk about them as well. There is, you know, some that are at other running stores in town, at Colorado Running Company on Wednesday nights. One that just started on Wednesday nights as well at Colorado Mountain Brewing.
I think the club itself has been successful in taking other businesses to say, Wow, this is working. This is creating business for us. This is creating fitness across the board in terms of running, walking.
Not everyone comes out and runs; they walk. They just hang out. They want the social aspect. So I don’t say we’re just successful because we run. Not everyone does.
The club will be five years old on June 13. And we just want to continue to see it, and people come like they have the last five years.
MR. HARRIS: And Karen, do you want to talk a little bit more about what the impact on the community has been? I think you started off with 71 people. Tell everyone how many people you have show up now.
MS. EVERS: Okay. Our record, which was on June 15 last year in 2010 was 1,277 people. So that’s one Tuesday night.
MS. EVERS: One single Tuesday night at one place. Now everybody’s going to be like, Where’s the fire marshal?
So what happens is anywhere between 5:00 and 6 o’clock on an average Tuesday night people check in. The first time you show up you sign a waiver upstairs. Then weeks after that you check in on a little clipboard and that’s how we keep track of attendance. You become a member in our database.
Once you run ten times — I think my shirt fell down — but once you run ten times you get a free shirt.
MR. HARRIS: That’s my shirt. Don’t try to take it.
MS. EVERS: You know, pretty much now in the, like he asked what the impact of the community is. Right now the whole downtown is involved. So people show up. They’ll sign in. They’ll sign their waiver. They’ll, you know, put down whatever.
You know, some people — I’ve been there 179 times. And some of those times I didn’t run because I was managing it. But there are others that have been there well over 200 times like Donovan Thorpe. He only runs on Tuesday nights. He’s not entered a race; that’s what he does on Tuesdays. I mean, he walk-runs half of it probably.
But another example of the community downtown, for like our sponsors and things as well, the only thing that Jack Quinn’s Irish Pub really asked me to do is not to have another sponsor that served alcohol. So within that Jimmy Johns became our sponsors. And that is who — some of our downtown sponsors.
After that, just the downtown businesses kind of went on their own and offered specials to pretty much anyone that’s downtown on a Tuesday night. So Old Chicago, Panino’s, Olive Branch have all taken all these, you know, people, runners, walkers, whatever, and really taken them.
Their business has been fantastic. Parking on a Tuesday night staying downtown. But really just has had an
impact on the downtown community in terms of business on a Tuesday night.
They also, just with the fitness downtown, now they are more apt to sponsor a race, either running or cycling, because they see how the downtown is taking this. And it’s helping their businesses as well.
One last thing. Last Tuesday, just an FYI, last Tuesday we had 1,106 people come out and run for one individual Tuesday. So we’re still up there. And we want to break a record again this summer.
We’ll see how — and we’re still growing. We’re always questioning, When is the plateau? When are we going to stop having more and more people that do not know about a running club that meets on Tuesdays downtown?
So that’s one thing I think has really had an impact on the community.
MR. HARRIS: That’s terrific. And I know that Colorado Springs is very unique. I think some other cities, Boulder for instance, tried to start something similar and really hasn’t been able to get it off the ground.
But this is something really unique that we should celebrate in Colorado Springs. And I see the Downtown Partnership over here and I know they’re cheering your success as well because it brings a lot of people downtown to eat and shop as well. So thank you for all your efforts.
MR. HARRIS: Next presenter is Meredith Vaughan.
The first question I have for you is how did the local organizing committee leverage our sports heritage to win the most compelling component of the race, the Prologue?
MS. VAUGHAN: So hopefully all of you know that we are the first stop in the USA Cycling Challenge race this summer. Our event is the Prologue. And we were very focused on getting the Prologue.
When we found out that the then Quizno’s Pro Challenge was calling for our piece to be submitted for locations throughout the state of Colorado a group of really interesting and diverse private citizens got together and put together a very very strong RFP — I actually have the proposal if anybody’s interested in seeing it — to go after not a stage but this stage specifically.
We wanted this stage for a number of reasons. We wanted this stage first of all because it is the most compelling stage. And I’ll talk a little bit about why it’s the most compelling stage. It allows for a very intimate race experience.
We also wanted the stage because we do have such an amazing heritage in the community. We have not only the USAC but we have all the NGBs. We have USA cycling here. We have pro athletes. We have Olympic athletes. We have retired cyclists and professional cyclists. We have professional cyclist coaches. It’s an amazing city for not just sports but this sport specifically.
So we went in with a laser-like focus. We went in with a request for the Prologue. Twenty cities throughout the state of Colorado submitted. Ten were selected for stages. And there’s only one selected for the Prologue, and that was Colorado Springs.
We were competing directly against Golden and Boulder for this stage. We went in with a three-year plan to host this not just this year but for the next two years. And we went in with a plan that was inclusive and comprehensive of multiple facets in the community.
And it was successful. In fact, we were told that it was the best proposal that they had received by any city in any race. They ran the Tour of California, they ran the Tour of Missouri. They run tours all over the country and in fact races in multiple parts of the world.
They were incredibly impressed with what we did. And it was great. We were really excited and very honored.
We did use the community as the backdrop for everything that we talked about. We came in with really well established and cool routes.
The course that you guys are going to find out about hopefully next week — I’m not allowed to tell you. It’s pretty awesome — but the course that they selected is just amazing. It showcases so much of our city in a way that tells the story that’s much much different from a lot of the stories that are told about our city today.
So we’re really excited about it and think it’s great. We’re really lucky that we got it. The race organizers are anticipating 500,000 people will come for the entire race. And the majority of them will stay here in Colorado Springs.
MR. HARRIS: I know, Meredith, you also wanted to talk about COSRocks.
MS. VAUGHAN: Actually, can I talk a little bit more about the race?
MR. HARRIS: Please do. Tell us what makes the Prologue so great.
MS. VAUGHAN: For those of you who know me you’re going to have a hard time shutting me up.
So what the Prologue means, we have five days of events. The Prologue is Monday, the 22nd of August. We’ll have five days of events leading up to it.
We’re partnering with Downtown Partnership for some events. We’re wrapping this whole thing in the spirit of sportsmanship. We’re doing things like a FanFest downtown where we’re going to shut down the streets of downtown and really promote what it means to live in Colorado Springs and participate in sports.
We’re going to do a BMX Expo. We’re going to do a kids cyclefest. We’re going to do a race of champions with Chris Carmichael. There’s lots of opportunities to engage and participate.
But I want to talk about what the Prologue means. So I’ll give you a little hint about where the route starts. It starts at Garden of the Gods.
And the reason the Prologue is so amazing and so different from every other stage is that the cyclists ride one at a time. So you’ll know when your cyclist that you want to follow is going and will be able to really have an intimate and one-on-one experience.
The FanFest will also allow you, when you’re in downtown Colorado Springs, to interact with each of the cyclists. So we have commitments from the cyclists to come to the FanFest and interact with fans in Colorado Springs. It’s pretty amazing and really really different.
We have volunteer opportunities for the race. So if you’re interested in volunteering, go to our Facebook page, which is Facebook.com/Cycling Society. Cycling Society is the 501(c)(3) that we had to establish to run the race. Follow up on Twitter at Cycling Society and get a lot of information about what’s going on.
We’re really looking at this as a three-year event, both from just a pure cool thing for us to have for the community, but also as an economic development perspective. Five hundred thousand people coming here is a pretty significant number. Imagine what that’s going to do if downtown parking is bad now. We’re looking at solutions around that.
But we want this to be every year for Colorado Springs to be the start city for the Prologue. So as much support from the community as we can get we really need it.
I brought T-shirts for hopefully many of you today. So they’re cool. We have them. Come see me if you want a T-shirt. And I’ll start promoting this. We also have window decals for those of you who have businesses if you wouldn’t mind putting up a window decal. If we run out let me get your name and business card, and I’ll make sure you get some. Put them up in your business.
It’s important that the retail environments and the restaurants in the town and individuals support this so that we guarantee that it will come back next year.
It’s really exciting. And hopefully you all will engage in some way, shape, or form, and at least participate by coming and watching these amazing world-class cyclists.
We’re also going to have some really exciting media opportunities. Journalists from all over the world are coming, and they’re going to come four days in advance.
They’re going to do a lot of the staging here. So my company, Vladimir Jones, is doing all the media relations for the race in this market. We have a lot of opportunities to tell great stories about Colorado Springs.
We’re working with the CVB to welcome them, these media folks, and we’re working with the CDD to put together a nice package of what it really means to participate in sports in Colorado Springs.
Another very exciting opportunity that we have is we’ll be featured on Versus, which is the network broadcast partner for the race. Colorado Springs will have two hours of exposure on Versus during the period of the race. We’re working with Versus to also supply them with interesting story ideas about the community, interesting places to go, things to see, things to do.
We really want to make sure we’re telling a rich, comprehensive, and accurate story about what it means to live in Colorado Springs and participate in sports in this market.
It’s pretty amazing. And the fact that we’re going to get this level of exposure for a bunch of volunteer work that’s being done is really remarkable. Knowing what we know about media it’s a hard to buy this kind of exposure.
We also have a 30-second television spot that will run throughout the entire week of the race just about Colorado Springs that we were currently producing. So look for that.
Look for some social media, engage in the opportunities I just talked to you about, and also look for ways to volunteer and get involved.
MR. HARRIS: That’s really exciting. I think you’re going to get mobbed for those shirts right after the event.
MS. VAUGHAN: I don’t have that many, but I’ll get as many out as I can.
MR. HARRIS: All right. One of the themes of today is how do we keep our young professionals in Colorado Springs, and how do we grow that population. And Meredith is also involved in something called COSRocks. Tell us what COSRocks is, and why that’s great for our city.
MS. VAUGHAN: So you’ve heard a couple of people talk about leveraging the young professionals here and engaging them, and maintaining their presence in our city. It’s really critical.
I’m also part of the 1635 implementation team. Back in December we convened a summit at Nosh with about 40 young professionals in the market. We convened the summit just to talk about the reality of what it meant to be a young professional here, what they liked, what they didn’t like, what they’d like to see changed.
Actually, one of our city council members was there and participated. And what emerged was a really rich dialogue about what we’d like to see changed, and how we can have a different voice. And we established COSRocks.
There’s stickers on your table. Take those. The back of the stickers have the Facebook page. I have a few T-shirts for COSRocks here as well.
Much of what emerged was that there was no place to talk about what was great about Colorado Springs. There was a lot out there about what was not so great, but these young professionals wanted a place to talk about that. And sports was a really important part.
So we launched the COSRocks initiative on April 16, national record store day, and partnered with Old Town Bike Shop to promote it. Thank you to Old Town Bike Shop for participating. If you drive by you’ll still see the big COSRocks sticker on the door.
It’s really a great way to volunteer your time and your opinion about what’s great about this community. So get involved there as well. And let me know if you have any questions about that.
We have a really amazing group of young professionals who are in to sports, and are focusing a lot of the initiatives on this. It’s a grassroots movement; it’s not anything formally organized. So if you know a young professional have them call me, and I will get them hooked up with the COSRocks initiative.
MR. HARRIS: Tell us how we can get involved in COSRocks.
MS. VAUGHAN: COSRocks is Facebook.com/COSRocks. Twitter is @COSRocks. Hashtag COSRocks and follow the news there. Facebook for the Cycling Society is Facebook.com/Cycling Society or @ Cycling Society. Follow all of those and you’ll get a good sense of what’s being talked about and what’s happening. There’s lots of cool stuff happening.
MR. HARRIS: Meredith, thank you.
MR. HARRIS: It’s nice to hear from Meredith about some of the grassroots activities that are taking place.
Next let’s hear from Doug Price from the Convention and Tourism Bureau. How does our sports community impact the local economy of Pikes Peak region? Doug.
MR. PRICE: You know, this is my favorite audience. You’ve all had a drink and we haven’t. And it’s almost 5 o’clock so we ought to get things going and get a chance to interact with the audience.
I’ll be brief. I will tell you that $1,350,000,000 is the overall economic impact that tourism has on our community. And sports in and of itself plays a large part of that.
You know, in 2010 alone, which was kind of a down year for the economy, we had 95 sporting events in this city. I just got here in January. And one of the, one of the events I was able to watch firsthand was here we are in the middle of February, President’s Day weekend.
We had 80 hockey teams come in from, you know, regionally, but they came from as far as Michigan and California. And the estimated economic impact on that weekend was about $2,000,000. So the ripple effect on tourism is pretty staggering.
I would say that when you, you know, when you think about people like Chris Carmichael training systems here, you know, Chris could have done this in a lot of places. But at 6,035 feet our altitude makes us more or less a trophy destination in which to hold sporting events.
I’m going to let Mike, when it’s Mike Moran’s turn to talk about a little bit about the EUSOC and some of the things that you already know about that training center.
But when you think about when events come to town, you know, they bring, they bring families with them; they bring all kinds of spectators. And the dollars that they sink into our economy is often invisible but it’s very very far reaching.
The fact is tourism in this community is the third largest employer, with almost 13,000 jobs. And again a lot of that is related to sports.
So, you know, what does that mean to those of us sitting in this room? It means sports for us really kind of equates to a great quality of life. We are able to enjoy the, you know, the open spaces and the trails.
One of the things that Tim and I were talking about yesterday — I’m learning every day. I’m learning that this city, you know, people here like to participate in sports, not just be spectators. It’s a really big part of the fabric of our community.
And so what I would just challenge people to think about is this. The No. 1 reason that people travel for leisure purposes is to visit friends and family. So when you have people that say to you that, We’re going to come to Colorado Springs, the first thing that I would challenge you to do is take pride in that and tell them, You are going to have to stay for a week in order to take advantage of all the things that we have to do here.
But we would ask that you put them in a hotel or a B&B so we can collect tax on that. We don’t need them in your house for a week.
But clearly we have a great story to tell. Several people in the room here were on the trip to Oklahoma City on the Chamber trip a week and a half ago. And probably one of the biggest questions that the people in OKC would look at us and say is, What are you guys doing here? You have a tremendous quality of life already in Colorado Springs.
And so much of that revolves around the sports fabric of our culture. So take pride in that. Talk about it, and invite people to come here and enjoy a unique experience.
MR. HARRIS: Doug, did you want to talk a little bit about what you’re doing to attract more sporting events to Colorado Springs?
MR. PRICE: Fortunately this year our budget has been fully restored over where it had been in 2010, which allows our staff to go and attend more trade shows, and be out there and working with event organizers in order to attract people to come here.
I can tell you that in 2010 our sales team at the convention bureau booked 87,000 rooms for the future for people to come here and participate in sports. That is just a huge number. It’s far and away our biggest market.
So in being able to be fully budgeted it sort of now allows us to do more targeted advertising promotion and direct sales towards attracting more events to come to town.
MR. HARRIS: That’s great news, Doug. Thank you.
MR. HARRIS: We’re going to have a break in our program just for a second because there’s another gentleman in the room I want to have an opportunity to talk to just a bit, Dr. Venkat Reddy from UCCS. He’s going to have to take off in just a second.
But many of you may have heard that UCCS has launched a Sports and Fitness Business Plan competition that they’re hosting nationwide. I want to give him a chance to promote that just a little bit.
DR. REDDY: Thanks, Jim. Thanks for the opportunity to promote the Business Plan competition. We’re in the proper venue for that.
Dr. Tom Duening, director of our Business Center of Entrepreneurship, began the launch of the College of Business to support business and ethics in support of the business plan competition. And all 248 universities across the country would be eligible for this.
And this tied neatly right into what we are trying to do in our community here. His goal is simply to attract all of these smart people to come.
The competition will happen, the applications will start coming in September. In October you’ll have ten semifinalists. And then four finalists on October 24, when they make the announcement.
The idea being that the business establishment, there’s a $35,000 prize money to it, $20,000 for the first prize.
Once they comes in some of you see them and say, Hey, maybe we want to invest in their business. When you invest in their business we get to keep them in town, and that’s the big vision because it’s really hard to attract venture capital to our city.
I think that with the sport based theme, I think with the NGBs sports based for college as well but we have a lot of things coming together.
I told somebody that we would be able to see on the license plates the Olympics sports. It’s a real hope.
But I hope you will promote that business plan, and encourage other schools across the nation to participate in this. Thank you, Jim. Appreciate it.
MR. HARRIS: Thank you. All right. Mr. John Dunker is next. And the question I have for him — and John’s with the EDC — what is the EDC doing to bring new businesses to Colorado Springs?
MR. DUNKER: First of all, I’m the new face that Jim talked about when he did the introductions. And I wanted to stand up here and take a look at everybody in the back of the room and say hi, and that way I can kind of see who I put to sleep, and also who is going to start throwing the first rocks.
I also wanted to comment about Karen, and dispel the idea that all these runners are tall and thin. I want you to know I have 30,000 miles on these legs. And tall and thin I haven’t seen since I was nine years old.
One of the interesting things — I mentioned that I was new. I am new in the community. Anne and I moved here by choice. And after 47 years it’s the first move beyond military, beyond business that we ever had to say, Where do we want to live?
And so when we moved here one of the things that I had an opportunity to do is meet with EDC, and talk to them a little bit.
The last eight years of my business career I worked in relocating and locating plants and businesses. And we built, we had eight businesses, eight plant projects of which we actually built. So I was able to sit on the other side of the table from the EDC and say, Look, I know what these people are looking for.
So when I got involved with the EDC I learned a little bit about 6035. And I’m going to take you through just a little of it just so I get an opportunity to come back next year.
There are four general areas that 6035 identified. And that was the aerospace, defense, and homeland security, software and IT, renewable energy, and sports, health, and wellness.
And the committee pretty well put these together saying, These are the types of businesses and activity which will be compatible with our community. So I’ve been involved with the sports team now for about two years. And just recently got a chance to work with all the teams.
And so what we have done is we took a look at these four categories and said, Hey, can we get our arms around these? So we still have the military, aerospace, and security team; we have data centers that evolved out of the software and IT team; we have the Pikes Peak Clean Tech Team, which has really done a lot. They are renewable energy. And other ones.
Then the sports, health, and wellness team, we broke that down into three different teams. We have sports industry events — and pretty much everybody’s talked about a lot of those already — we have medical devices, and we have health information technologies. And those are the teams that the EDC has put together.
I look out over this group and say, Hey, look. We need participation from everybody. So at the end of the night if anybody’s interested in participating in one of these teams please see me. I’ll be around, and I’ll probably be over there getting my beer.
And the teams, they have really two primary missions. And the first mission is obvious. It’s to support the existing businesses in the region. And I said “support the existing businesses in the region.”
And then of course to attract new businesses that will contribute to our economic development and jobs. That’s really what we’re about: Jobs.
And then the secondary mission of each of these teams is to establish a project. And this project would relate to industry segments they’re looking at. Could be one on infrastructure, could be one on any other ones.
And then the teams evolve. And we select various different businesses or categories and say, All right. What does it take to get here? And after having sat on the other side of the table of this for about eight or nine years I broke it down into three things that a business really looks for when it moves or locates.
The first one I kind of categorize as your needs and requirements. If you’re a manufacturing business you’re going to look at your factors of production, whether it’s raw materials, land, utilities, labor. Those you have to have when you look at a community where we want to locate.
The second area is what I define as the desirables.
And having been a CEO that’s relocated a business I can tell you that if your wife doesn’t like the schools or doesn’t like the community, chances of you living here are not very good. So those are the desirables.
And those also have to pertain to the employees that we’re going to move, and also the employees that you attract once you get there. When you move a business you hope that at least 80 percent of your employees will come out of the local area you’re moving to.
And the third area, which can’t be overestimated — and a lot of people don’t really think about it or talk about it — is the community reception. And that relates to the attitude of the people that are there, the political leaders in the community, and not just the EDC says, We’re going to love you when you move here.
Those are the types of things that are really really really important. It’s more than taxes and incentives; it’s the attitude of the people. And also the local community and how they relate with the state. I’ve been involved in very very big projects that — we had a location in one state. We were all ready to go. And when we really started working with the city and the state they weren’t in sync at all. We actually ended up moving a big project, a $300 million project, out of the state because of that.
So these are just some of the things that we try to do with our team. And again let me give a plug for joining one of these teams. It has to have community involvement. Thank you, Jim.
MR. HARRIS: Sure. Thank you, John.
MR. HARRIS: I know you may have already touched on it, but did you want to talk any more about how people might get involved with the Sports Industry and Events Team?
MR. DUNKER: Yes. I’m going to have to kind of change my thoughts around here just a little bit.
You notice a lot of the things that Colorado Springs is really known for in sports that nobody else has. The USOC Training Center. We’ve got the NGBs. And I can go on and on.
We’ve got the Air Force Academy. We get D1 sports here. We get nationally ranked football teams. And I’ll give them a plug because their tickets are very affordable. I’m proud to say two of my kids were athletes at the Air Force Academy.
We’ve got Colorado College’s nationally ranked, nationally recognized hockey program. We have UCCS. They have an expanding athletic program. And they have one of the few PGA golf management programs in the country. There’s only 20 of them in the whole country.
Of course we have the hill climb, the LPGA and we’ve had the Senior Open. And now we’re really blessed to have the USA Pro Cycling Challenge here.
And if we look at all those and say, Hey, these are some of our assets. How do we build on them? Sothen we look at what is it going to take?
We have the elite athletes and the coaches that reside here. We have 6035, and by that I don’t mean operation 6035.
We, a lot of young athletes go to Boulder for altitude training.
And you look at the Mexico City Olympics where a lot of the records were set at 7,200 feet. And then you have Salt Lake City in the Olympics.
They were at 4,200 feet. Where are we? We’re over 6,000, we’re over 6,000 feet. I think for altitude training that really is important. And I can tell you that in 2007 Anne and I bought a townhouse here. And we came out. And one of our neighbors talked me into running the American Discovery Trail half marathon.
Now, you want to talk about somebody that came from Missouri, and now has learned about altitude training? I can tell you by my presence here I did not die but at times I thought it was going to be close.
We also have over 300 days of outdoor training climate in this city. So those are some of the things that we can really add up to.
And I get back and I talk about the desirables. We have a quality of life here in Colorado Springs. And Anne and I chose to move here after 47 years. It was a choice for us.
We have the schools and the education. And I can tell you families look at that. We have colleges. We have the universities here. And businesses that are going to move, sports businesses or anything else, are going to look at that.
The other thing that I think that is really important is the community involvement that I mentioned. And it takes the whole sports community working together for us to attract other sports organizations, events, and companies. And yes, taxes and incentives are important; there’s no doubt about it. And I think our political leaders will address those issues.
But one other thing I really want to mention that I think is so important — and I think you can see from some of the enthusiasm of some of the speakers up here — is young professionals. Youth moves to jobs. And we’ve got to be a community that creates jobs for the youth.
I’ve had the fortune to work with the rising professionals out at the Chambers of Commerce here since I’ve been here. And I can’t tell you how enthusiastic and how good you feel when you get an opportunity to see some of these young people and say, Hey, our future’s in good shape.
So I just want to say that we are focused from the sports teams on companies and associations that are related to sports, whether it be equipment, nutrition, health information, and technology and all those. That’s where we’re focused.
And I’m pleased to say, if you remember, one of the second things that each of these teams are going to do is to have a project. And a sports team is associated with the project. The leader of our sports team is working with one very closely.
And I can only say — I’ve written down what I’m allowed to say about this one — this is what we considered a stake-in-the-ground project. It’s a multimillion-dollar project for sports support facility. It’s related to training and rehab. It will relate to elite athletes and the other athletes like us that are sitting in this room.
The land is under contract. And there should be a press announcement within the next 30 days. So we’re working hard on sports. And we need your participation. We took our sports team, broke it up into three different teams. So anyone here that’s interested in helping us on the sports team we welcome you. Thank you.
MR. HARRIS: Thank you, John.
MR. HARRIS: Our next presenter is Mike Moran. I don’t know that he needs a microphone because he has that great announcer voice.
But the first question is, how does the Sports Corporation impact the city’s sports industrial, economic impact, and its image?
MR. MORAN: Thanks, Jim. The Colorado Springs Sports Corporation — and for those of you that are members of my e-mail blast list you know exactly what we are trying to do here.
The Colorado Springs Sports Corporation is a privately funded, not-for-profit organization whose sole mission in life is sports. Attract events, promote events, bring organizations to town, and support the organizations like the United States Olympic Committee, the governing bodies that are already here. We’re trying to build an awareness of sports in a central location in this city. You’ll hear a lot about sports today. Everybody has a lot in the resource category.
But what we’re looking for is an image, a sports image of this city. And what we’re trying to do to promote that is — and I wrote a column last week, for those of you that get it.
And if you don’t, leave me your business card.
I wrote a column about branding, and what this city could be branded in terms of sports. Some relate to the Olympic presence.
The Colorado Springs Sports Corporation has partnered with organizations to bring events to town like the NCAA ice hockey regionals. We staged the Rocky Mountain State Games. We brought the State Games of America here three times. We’re partnering for the National Boxing Championships in June. We are now partners, and very much involved with the Pikes Peak International Hill Climb and also with the US Women’s Open.
The events that we’re directly involved in promoting, financially involved in, or assisting this summer, the hill climb, the Rocky Mountain State Games, the National Boxing Championships, and the US Women’s Open will bring to this city close to 300,000 people identified and booked. These are officials, media, the athletes, tourists, and spectators.
This summer is an incredible summer for sports in Colorado Springs. And I’ll talk about it very briefly in a minute. But what we try to do is to bring events to this city, and promote the sports entities that we have here in town already.
The Rocky Mountain State Games coming up on two weekends in July will bring 7,000 athletes of all ages and skill levels to town, and with them another 11,000 people: Friends, family, sisters, brothers, and whatever. They will come from 120 to 130 cities and towns in Colorado.
The Pikes Peak Hill Climb is not the hill climb that you knew in previous days. This is an event with media from 18 countries with drivers from Spain, Italy, Mexico, France, the Virgin Islands, and Japan.
This race is something that will explode in the future because in a very short period of time the hill will be paved all the way to the top. When that happens this race, already the second oldest race in the United States behind the Indy 500, can and probably will become something very special. It already is somewhat iconic, but it is going to be very, very unique.
In the late 1970s and early ’80s when I was with the US Olympic Committee we saw Indianapolis explode from a rusty, tired, joked-about city nap-town to martial sports, and get the buy-in of everybody between 20 and 50 in that town with a mayor that is absolutely passionate, Bill Hudnut, about utilizing sports to change the face of Indianapolis to something as a destination, and all the economic impact that goes with that.
For those of you who remember, last summer I brought in a man named Jim Morris to speak at a luncheon that we co-sponsored with the EDC called Building a Great City Through Sports. And Jim talked about what Indianapolis did over a six-year period to turn the city’s image around.
We already have in place everything that Indianapolis didn’t. What we don’t have is the national image of Colorado Springs and sports. This is being tossed around now in branding meetings and commissions and all that.
And the Colorado Springs Sports Corporation and all of the organizations we’re affiliated with are ready to move forward as soon as we have our new mayor on a plan that will do just that in the future.
This is the city on the cusp of something great in terms of sports. And yes, we talked about economic benefits; we’ve talked about heads in beds; we’ve talked about all of that.
But what the Sports Corp is doing and what our hope is is not just for economic impact. It’s for all of you and your families. It’s the quality of life that goes with sports.
All of the things that we’re trying to do and all of the sports organizations and the staples, Air Force football, CC and Air Force hockey, UCCS sports, all of the things we take for granted, but nonetheless if we can pull this all together – and we intend to do that with a lot of help and all these organizations — this city will surpass Indianapolis as the nation’s sports capital.
MR. HARRIS: That’s great.
MR. HARRIS: Mike, you have a long history with USOC. We want to hear a little bit about your observations about the impact the USOC has on our community.
MR. MORAN: Well, if I can put my USOC hat back on. Twenty-five years and it still fits, to a degree. The organization is something special. This is the gem, the treasure of this community.
I came with this organization to Colorado Springs in the summer of 1978 when it relocated from New York City. It was an extremely tense bidding process. The only other city that bid for the United States Olympic Committee and the training center and all the things that go with it was Baton Rouge, Louisiana.
The USOC pulled up stakes in New York — we were at 78 Park Avenue on the other side of what was the PanAmbuilding — and brought a small staff of ten people out here.
What the USOC represents and what it brings to this community no other city has; no one else can share this treasure. It’s not just the economic impact.
This is a city where the 1980 US Olympic ice hockey team lived, trained, and was selected. They pulled off the Miracle on Ice in Lake Placid. This is where Jesse Owens rode around in a golf cart with me in the spring of 1979. As he was sitting looking at Pikes Peak one day he talked about how maybe we can bring everybody together to stand on the victory stand and achieve our dreams and do something special.
This is where Wilma Rudolph coached some young girls in track and field in 1983. This is where on April 12, 1980, in this very hotel in this ballroom, the United States Olympic Committee sadly and painfully voted, under pressure from the Carter administration, to boycott the Moscow games.
But within four years we had restored our credibility. We had gone out and got the finances, put ourselves back together. And in that building over on Union and Boulder we put together men and women and dedicated individuals and organizations which put together successful bids by American cities in Salt Lake and Atlanta and Lake Placid and Los Angeles that brought the Olympic games to America.
This is an organization with 500 employees or so in this city, men and women who send their kids to schools, and occupy volunteer roles. It’s an organization that has a vast economic impact here in town.
But these organizations, the governing bodies and the businesses related to USOC — 350,000 athletes have come to this city to train since 1978 when we opened our doors to chase some sort of dream. And they continue to come. Seventy-five percent of America’s Olympic team, since 1980, have lived and trained at one time in Colorado Springs.
My good friend Scott Blackman in the USOC – very grateful for what they’ve been given with this new downtown headquarters and the commitment by the City, as controversial as it may have been at times, is putting things back into the city.
Events like the US Olympic Assembly, the International Olympic Committee Athletes Summit, Community Appreciation Day with much more to come and much more to be announced.
US Olympic Committee staffers are on 20 boards here in town now. They’re reaching out. They make donations to the parks and to the recreational centers.
It’s a fabulous organization that nobody else has. And I’m really glad it’s here for the future.
MR. HARRIS: Mike, thank you.
MR. HARRIS: All right. Now we’re going to open up the panel to question from the audience. And so if you prefer to write your question on a note card, Matt, stand up, and John. If you want to do that, if you want a note card, raise your hand. If not we’ve got some roaming microphones in the room. Feel free to — you need this microphone? Okay.
MR. LORD: My name’s Dave Lord. And I’m here today with my hat on as being part of the Downtown Development Authority Board and part of the Downtown Partnership.
And all I want to do is — this is not necessarily a question. But first I want to thank all of you who are hosting events trying to showcase our downtown.
But I would like us to think, as we move forward to think about the opportunity around sports, to also think about the opportunity to help showcase our wonderful downtown. Any community needs to have a heart. Our downtown is the heart. I’ll just raise a couple of thoughts as we think about how we want to move forward in the future.
I think many people that went to Oklahoma City and the other tours they have done to communities, if they were to think about the reasons those communities have been successful, a lot of it is around sports.
Certainly downtown Oklahoma City, with what they’ve done with their minor league baseball stadium, the arena, the wonderful rowing facility, they put those downtown. And they have invested in their downtown. It’s helped it to grow.
We are very fortunate to have the wonderful USOC headquarters and the Olympics here in our community. And I think trying to find ways to partner with them, showcase them, take advantage of them in our downtown, potentially look at some type of festival or event that we could do next summer while the summer Olympic games are going on.
Another thing, you know, I’ve lived here for a long while. We have a wonderful park system, a wonderful monument valley, and assets in our community with people who enjoy participating in sports.
So my real comment — and certainly anybody can add to it — I think as we think about growing sports I think it’s also an opportunity to help grow our downtown. And, you know, when you think about sports it is about community and it is about heart.
MR. HARRIS: I believe Ray Essix had planned on presenting something to the group.
MR. ESSIX: My name is Ray Essix. I’m retired now. But for 21 years I was the executive director of United States swimming.
In 1981 we moved from Indianapolis. I’m not well thought of back in that town. But now we’re in Colorado Springs. And I can tell you this. The 200 some thousand volunteers and athletes that the United States swimming has couldn’t be happier with being represented here in this town. I had a chance to work on both sides of the street here because I was a volunteer, and chaired some committees that we had, and tapped into a great deal of talent and knowledge in sports that had never been looked at before.
About 12 or 13 years ago we had a spinoff of our athlete performance group and a coaching committee that said, What are we going to do for Colorado Springs? How can we improve our visibility in The Springs, and how can we improve the visibility of sports in the United States with Colorado Springs as the center?
Oh, we looked at logos, we looked at all the different sports. And you can tell I’m winging it because they sent my lawyer here to make sure I didn’t say anything wrong. Tom. And we came up with a proclamation. What’s unique about this, other than the fact that I stared at it on my wall in my office all these years since 1998, is what we came up with is interesting in regard to today, we said that this is the sports leadership capital in the United States.
That was the one issue that we thought we had and we were contributing to Colorado Springs, that it was the sports leadership capital, home of the Olympic Committee, the flagship Olympic Training Center, the Olympic Committee Sports Science and Technology program, home to 21 Olympic and PanAmerican sports, home to the National and Regional Sports Administrative headquarters such as the Native American Sports Council, Wheelchair Sports USA, the American Association, and on and on and on and on. And all of a sudden we realized, Holy mackerel, we’ve got one heck of a community in terms of sports leadership: Decisions that are being made, activities. You’ve got lot of events here that you do own so to speak.
Colorado Springs is home to three institutions of higher education: The United States Air Force Academy, Colorado College, and UCCS, which support athletes in the collegiate level and attract visitors and students to our community. It’s estimated that Colorado Springs hosts over 500 different administrative sports meetings. That’s 1998. I can’t imagine what the number might be now in terms of how many different meetings — although with the reduction of committees in the Olympic Committee there may not be as many meetings — but we’re sure making a pretty good economic contribution.
Now, what’s really I thought unique is, In witness whereof I have hereunto set my hand and caused the great seal of the City of Colorado Springs to be affixed the first day of August, 1998. Mary Lou Makepeace. Where are we today, 15 years later with another mayor coming in, and I hope we aren’t going to lose the leadership capital designation that we have adopted as we go forward in Colorado Springs.
At that point, Mike, I don’t know who else I could give this to. If nothing else we’ll have something on the e-mail soon.
MR. MORAN: Thanks, Ray.
MR. ESSIX: And one more thing. We’re getting, we get some pretty good PR on the cheap from this guy. And all over the country and all over the world he’s known as the representative of our Olympic Committee; he’s known as the representative of Colorado Springs. And it’s paying off.
MR. HARRIS: Thank you. Are there any questions in the room? I’ve got one question up here, but would love to hear from you in the room. Anyone want the microphone?
MR. KRUGER: Yes. My name’s Mark Kruger. I’m actually with the National Junior College Athletic Association that’s headquartered here in Colorado Springs. My question for the CVB is what type of sporting events are you looking for, the type of numbers of teams, the number of participants that’s going to be a factor in us having a home here?
MR. PRICE: You know, we are considered the amateur sports capital of the country. So we tend, because of our climate and our venues, to look at events that would, you know, be held outdoors in basically the months of May through, you know, September or October. But we are wide open to looking at all kinds of opportunities to take advantage of some of the great facilities. And, you know, I heard there’s going to be an announcement, that John kind of teased us with, in a month or so. We’ve got some great venues. And we would love to work with you and talk further about some ways that we could possibly partner on attracting new events.
That’s one of the things I’ve noticed since I’ve been out here, starting in January, February, and March, I mean, it’s so quiet here from, you know, from a business standpoint, sports standpoint. I mean, there are, there’s opportunities to build some year-round business if we can have the kind of venues that we can do both indoors, you know, in our offseason. Let’s talk afterwards.
MR. HARRIS: Mike?
MR. MORAN: There’s one thing about that, too. As big as the city is now — and sometimes when people remind me that there’s 5- to 600,000 people in the Metro area it’s jaw-dropping to think about it. But we can’t do this and couldn’t have done some of the events that we continue to do, like the state games or our hall of fame each October — which I hope you come to, or will — or all of these other things without the venues.
We’ve been over the years at USOC, when I was there, and now the Sports Corp to have the buy-in and the willingness to cooperate by the venues such as the superbly run Colorado Springs World Arena. If you read the New York Times yesterday you read about the dilemma of overburdened arenas in cities around the country. That is not the case here. We have a world class world arena wonderfully managed and always ready to partner and go into business with us on events. The Air Force Academy we could do nothing without. All the times we brought the National Sports Festival here or big events like the Rocky Mountain state games it’s because Air Force allows us use its facilities. The same for Colorado College and UCCS and all of these. We do enjoy something that is a spirit of collegiality and the willingness to partner that cities our size normally just don’t have.
MR. HARRIS: Tim?
MR. LEIGH: Speaking of great venues here’s an idea, a little food for thought. How about a downtown sports arena that attracts some of these international and national activities downtown? 14,110 feet I think is how high Pikes Peak is, and it would be great for that center to have that number of seats in that venue.
MR. HARRIS: Okay. Thanks, Tim.
MR. MORAN: I would say for those of you that remember history, I think we brought that up a couple of times.
MR. LEIGH: That was the convention center. This is a —
MR. MORAN: How about a downtown convention center and arena. We know where that’s gone, unfortunately.
MR. LEIGH: You can’t call them — the secret, this is the secret. It can’t be called a convention center. It has to be an events center.
MR. HARRIS: Okay.
MR. GONZALES: Hi. My name is Reuben Gonzales. I’m an Olympic athlete and a professional speaker. I did the luge in four different Olympics.
And I travel a lot as a speaker. I mean, I’m hopping on a plane almost every week. Yesterday I was at our bank, Wells Fargo. And the loan officer was asking me, What’s your favorite city? And that stumped me, all right? ‘Cause I had to think outside of Colorado Springs.
I was raised in Houston. We moved here six months ago. I’ve been wanting to live here ever since college. Our team came and played a few Colorado teams 30 years ago, and I’ve been gunning for Colorado Springs ever since.
But most people don’t know about this place. It’s like a hidden gem. You guys are talking about attracting the young leaders and the young professionals. I don’t know what young ladies read but I know that I like to read, you know, Men’s Fitness and Adventure and Camping and that kind of magazine. And it seems like several times a month Boulder is listed as one of the, you know, top 10 cities to live in, right? For sports. Colorado Springs is never there, you know. We need to get some articles in all these magazines to attract those guys. If you gave me choice, you know, live in Boulder or live in Colorado Springs, no brainer, right?
So it’s a hidden gem nobody knows about. So we need to — there’s some writers over here. Man, start sending some inquiries to these magazines so we can get ourselves on the map.
And that’s one way to attract them. We got everything they need. We have it. They just don’t know it.
MR. PRICE: Reuben, welcome to Colorado Springs. And being a professional speaker one of the things we want to help you with is how you now get introduced as you go out and speak. And one of the things, before you leave the room, I do want to give you the list of things that our city has been acclaimed for in different fitness and sports magazines.
So before you leave please see me ’cause I have a great list for you.
MR. GONZALES: Oh, terrific. The last three years at least I worked what’s going on in my life into my talks. All my audiences in the last three years have known that I wanted to move to Colorado Springs. So I’ve been promoting you guys for the last three years.
MR. HARRIS: Okay. I have a written question that was passed up. I guess I’ll just address this to anyone on the panel.
What are the City’s plans for sprucing up the city for the summer events? For instance, pro cycling and the golf tournament, parkways, streets, et cetera? Anyone want to volunteer to answer that? Tim?
MR. LEIGH: I can just tell you that the City’s planning to spruce up parks and, you know, all the water and the mowing and the medians and the flowers and so on, so forth. We appropriated the money last city council to refill Prospect Lake and Quail Lake. So the City’s doing its part.
If there’s something out there that you see that I need to see please let me know. I think there’s a very strong advocacy on council to make sure the city does step up and do its part. I wanted to mention in terms of the downtown on Tuesday night things, I don’t know where you park all these people. But here again, here’s a little food for thought, and it’s something that the City can help you with and say, Here’s an idea. Free parking in the parking garages on Tuesday night. Would that bring more people down?
Sometimes these barriers are so simple it’s a phone call, and yet we don’t talk to each other.
I would tell you from my perspective on city council we stand ready to do whatever we have to do to make this place look beautiful. One of the issues that I pointed out to Steve Cox and several other people is the corner at Pikes Peak and Tejon, that colored concrete needs to be chopped out of there and spruced. I think that’s a terrible corner downtown. So there are folks that are working on, for example, to correct some of these deficiencies.
MR. HARRIS: Meredith?
MS. VAUGHAN: Yeah. I can talk a little bit about what we’re doing for the USA Pro Cycling Challenge. We’re doing stuff that no other city is going to do.
We are literally going to take over the entire city. And downtown is a huge focus of what we’re doing. So I’ll tell you the race starts at Garden of the Gods and ends in front of the USOC. We also are thinking about how we can incorporate the outlying cities, because as Mike said, we’re a huge geographic city. And what we’re trying to do is when we started this program we weren’t sure what the political climate would be like. We weren’t sure how the City would be able to participate.
We took it upon ourselves to reach out to private industry, and we have partnered with building owners all over town. We are literally going to wrap as many buildings as possible with something having to do with this race. When international media comes and international athletes are here they’re going to see a different perspective than they will see in any other race they go to in the world, but also particularly any other race that they go to here in the state of Colorado. We want this, the excitement that the core group of volunteers on the LLC feel, to permeate the entire city. So what are we doing? We are really working with the private industry in town to do things differently and to talk about the city differently and to present a different image. The City has since come in very significantly to help with this. So we are really looking at this as a wonderful example of public-private partnership. And if anybody has any ideas of anything that they would like to do for this event please let me know. But we think everyone here is going to be very excited starting in the next few weeks with what they’ll see in terms of this event.
MR. HARRIS: Mike?
MR. MORAN: Also on Friday, June 24, we’ll have about 35,000 people downtown at that major intersection that has been talked about here for the hill climb FanFest, which includes all the cars and drivers, music, food, the chance for kids and families to get hands on with these automobiles and motorcycles.
We’ll have a boxing ring set up as an exhibition for the next day’s International Boxing Championship finals at City Auditorium. And downtown will be very alive and very active.
Another point to the young man who mentioned about the fact that nobody seems to know about The Springs, I challenge anyone who has a computer — and I know you all do. When you go home tonight or tomorrow morning Google three words: Colorado Springs sports. I rest my case.
MR. HARRIS: All right. Great. I think we have time for maybe one more question.
MR. LEINWEBER: My name is Dave Leinweber. I own Anglers Covey. We’ve been, our business has been stagnating over the last four years. Last fall I decided to do a focus group with my customer base, and discovered several things that I wanted to address with you guys, get some ideas. In the survey I did, I surveyed over 2,000 people, and got almost 500 people to reply. And one of the things that surprised me was I asked them what keeps them from fly fishing. And their (answer) was, The river’s too crowded. Now, if you know Colorado, there’s actually 9,000 miles of streams in Colorado. There’s 2,000 lakes in Colorado. And so for me to ponder that question it shocked me a little bit.
I did a lot of soul searching, thinking about the idea that I was too busy trying to sell fly rods and not enough trying to sell fly fishing. And so I changed my whole mindset of my business to where I want people to know about access to fishing. So, you know, you’ve got 65 places you can go fly fishing within a two-hour drive of my store.
I think some of this is what’s coming across with Colorado Springs. People aren’t enticed to go, to enjoy. And that’s what I keep finding is every time I meet someone and I talk about fly fishing they say, Oh, I want to try that sometime. That means I’ve failed. Do you see what I’m saying?
I think when people say, Oh, I want to live in Colorado Springs sometime, I think we have to think about how we’re failing with that if we don’t get them here. We need to kind of address some of the things that I heard you start off with earlier, that we have a lot of great assets, but I don’t think we promote them. We don’t get them into our community enough. We don’t tell the community to go out on the incredible amount of trails.
I mean, just last year I found like five or six trails behind my house that I’ve never been on before. And I’ve been here for five years. You know, and so there’s kind of things like that that we need to push more.
I mean, how will we address those types of issues?
How do we get our community to enjoy our community too?
MR. MORAN: Let’s be serious and pragmatic. This is reality. All of the things you say are going on, but our difficulty here is that it’s being done by so many disparate groups. The kind of image and branding and attraction that you’re talking about costs millions of dollars.
All of the sports organizations that we’ve talked about here in town, including our business related organizations like Experience Colorado Springs, the Chamber, and the EDC, are all doing this. But there are a thousand audiences. If we had in a perfect world the ability to bring all of the financial resources and the arsenal of professionalism and men and women together under one roof to promote the city there wouldn’t be any questions like this.
But this is, this is 2011. And the reality here is we don’t do it that way. And very few cities are fortunate enough to do that. Everyone in this room can stand up and say, I have a business, or I have a vocation or an occupation or an interest but I don’t hear much about it nationally when I travel or elsewhere.
This is a costly endeavor, as Doug Price can tell you.
If you follow what they’re doing in terms of limited tourism dollars to be able to do this, you know how much we’re getting done in this community. But if I were king — I can see so many chefs in the kitchen. And that again is something that in a perfect world we might be able to overcome someday. It’s there, but we have a thousand voices in our city on everything.
MS. VAUGHAN: I would agree with that. I think that — I talked a little about the COSRocks initiative that addresses that exactly. It’s not just the external voice; it’s the internal voice. We have, we have a horrible, horrible tendency to not come together in a way that’s meaningful.
So just speaking from personal experience, I have 84 people that work for me. The median age of my employees is 27. I’m telling you that we have to solve this issue for my workforce and for our businesses collectively to thrive. So the COSRocks initiative is one way that we are really trying to bring to light the cool things about Colorado Springs so that everyone can access them so that they don’t remain hidden secrets. And perhaps if we can come together in a way that’s meaningful internally we can start telling a much more cohesive and much more viable long-term story externally. We have to have a brand internally that works first. And we don’t.
MR. HARRIS: Tim?
MR. LEIGH: Dave, I think you do it just like this. You do it one individual meeting at a time, one event like this at a time. I would say that there are folks out in the marketplace that are trying to bring significant events to Colorado Springs. I’ll mention just Lifetime Fitness. They built a 200,000 square foot arena — not arena, but a 200,000 square foot fitness club on the east side of town. I never go to the east side of town. So I sucked it up and drove all the way over there for open house a couple of weeks ago, and happened to meet the guy who was the founder. He went to Coronado High School and went to UCCS. He runs a billion dollar business in that one space. He has ten other businesses that he says will all be billion dollar businesses. He went to Coronado High School. He wants to host events in Colorado Springs. He’s our guy to lose. He’s committed to me — this is in the private sector — to send his team out here to look at Colorado Springs to host three events. He wants to get going on an off-road bike race marathon and triathlon.
Bud Greensberg is very interested with his wife Lisa to get involved in triathlons. Again you’re connecting somebody from away with somebody local. He’s done a lot through the private sector. How do you coordinate all this stuff? It’s, again, meetings like this. Your idea is a great idea to take guys and teach them how to fish. But you got to do it one meeting at a time and you have to build the community, and you have to trust that everybody up here is doing what they’re doing without some kind of subterfuge or extra motive. A big part of that is a trust thing and I think we’ll get there. I think we’ll get there. I think we’re on the right track.
MR. MORAN: Tim, you’re right. But imagine the cities and the states that have film commissions. And the cities, if you go to the Peak Theater you’ll see a rundown about the films that have been made in Colorado over the years.
In a perfect world the city itself — and you have your views about government and how big it should be or how small it should be — in a perfect world the cities like Indianapolis and St. Louis and Omaha, Nebraska, my hometown — unbelievable — but they have a portion of the City, a commission that is funded and actively works on doing the things we talk about.
Instead of 120 organizations doing their own thing and promoting sports and the city in its own way, there’s a central commission and a sports commission funded that will do these things.
There has been a reluctance in our city to fund certain entities. It has to do with facilities and venues and an activity like this. But that mindset, if you go to Omaha and look at what they’re doing in recruiting events and the facilities they have built and the sports events they’re attracting, their whole populace is willing to get into this. But at the center of it is the commission that gets City funding to do it. It’s not rocket science. If we could do that kind of thing perchance in this city you’d see remarkable results.
MR. HARRIS: Great discussion. We’ll let Tom ask the last question.
MR. JAMES: Mike, thank you for saying that because you really picked up on the questions I wanted to ask. Tim, you spoke of a private sector perspective on your comments initially. I’m going to ask you this question as a member of city council. I know you can’t speak for the city council, but I’m going to ask you the question. Can this City through its government leadership find a way to commit and show that it will commit to find a way to lead the way in appreciating and translating and transforming the City’s support of the sports and leisure industry into the next generation and into success?
MR. LEIGH: First of all, I think it’s a great question. I think it was answered in the ballot box the last time we had an election. The makeup of this city council is certainly very supportive of these kinds of initiatives. I would be very supportive of some kind of a sports commission if we could figure out how to put that thing together and get the right people on that bus. I think, you know, what it gets back to is we’ve really been a city that has really been in like this deep blue funk collectively. And I think we’ve woke up and are coming out of that. And we’re a city that I think believes we need to invest in ourselves. So I think you’re going to see some remarkable change over the next two to four years. And so yes, I think I can commit personally and I’ll go out on a limb because I know most of those councilors and I can probably commit that they would also endorse some kind of program like that.
MR. HARRIS: All right. Let’s give our great panelists a round of applause.
MR. HARRIS: Thank you all for coming. We hope you had a great time. We hope you learned something about our great city. And most importantly we hope you get involved.
Please give — also I want to thank Martinna Stahlmann at the back of room. She was my partner in crime in helping organize this event.
MR. HARRIS: I’d also like to recognize Steve Helbing, Wells Fargo regional president standing right here. He’s the one that made this possible.
MR. HARRIS: I also want to thank the great Colorado Springs Business Journal for helping promote this terrific event, and putting all this together. We sure appreciate that.
MR. HARRIS: Lastly you can all see a summary of this discussion with some great photos in the Journal in the coming weeks. They will also be posting the full transcript of this on line so you will see that as well. And please contact me if you have any suggestions on what we can do in the fall. We’ll be hosting one more of these type of panels in the fall. We’ll be interested to hear your ideas for topics. With that I just want to add that you heard Reuben Gonzales sitting right here, our resident Olympian in the room. And he’s offered to give his book as a door prize. And so we’ve randomly selected some folks, kind of did this on the list and hopefully they’re here. Lee Madden from National. Are you here? All right. Again, thank you very much for coming. If you’d like to come and talk to the panelists and get some more ideas — I know we didn’t get all the questions answered — I’m sure they will be willing to stay and answer all the questions that you have. Again, thank you for coming. Safe travel.
(Whereupon the within proceedings adjourned at 5:47 PM.)
C E R T I F I C A T I O N
I, Martha Loomis, Certified Shorthand Reporter, appointed to take the within proceedings hereby certify that the proceedings was taken by me, then reduced to typewritten form by means of computer-aided transcription; that the foregoing is a true transcript of the proceedings had subject to my ability to hear and understand, and that I have no interest in the proceedings.
IN WITNESS WHEREOF, I have hereunto set my hand.
Martha Loomis – Certified Shorthand Reporter
Proofread by D. Drake