After five years of drama and intrigue, the multi-million-dollar, tax-funded projects promised to the U.S. Olympic Committee’s training center are under way.
Crews are working on two major projects at the Olympic Training Center campus — part of a $40 million city-funded incentive package inked in 2009 to keep the USOC from packing up its headquarters and moving out.
Bryan Construction crews are building a new strength and conditioning building and renovating the sports medicine and recovery building on the 35-acre campus just blocks east of downtown. The projects, with a price tag of about $8.2 million, are the first of $16 million promised in the USOC incentive package for the training center, said Bob Cope, the city’s principal analyst for economic vitality.
“We are excited about this,” said Mark Jones, USOC director of communications. “This is part of the agreement between the USOC and the city — one part of the project was the headquarters downtown and the other part is $16 million from the city to do upgrades at the training center.”
The 36,000-square-foot strength and conditioning building will include an indoor track, agility field and weight room. The building is expected to be complete by the end of 2013 or early 2014.
“At its core, we want to ensure the athletes have the facilities necessary to be successful,” Jones said.
The second project includes renovating the sports medicine and recovery area. It is about 16,000 square feet and adjacent to the new strength and conditioning building. That project is expected to be completed by the third quarter of this year.
“It will offer America’s finest athletes one-stop shopping — they can eat, sleep, train and recover all in one place,” Jones said. “It is an exciting development for our athletes.”
City officials worked for about a year on the incentive package to keep the USOC from leaving the city, which it has called home since 1978. In 2009, the city agreed to buy the top five floors of the building at 27 S. Tejon from LandCo Equity Partners for $18.8 million and spend $2.7 million to renovate the inside. The city now leases the building to the USOC annually for $1, and the USOC agreed to stay in Colorado Springs for another 30 years.
The deal also included the $16 million for construction improvements at the training center.
From the start of the deal, which also included a $3 million grant from El Pomar Foundation, it was steeped in problems and controversy, including a lawsuit filed by LandCo, alleged ethics violations and the arrest of LandCo president Ray Marshall.
In 2010, the USOC moved into its downtown headquarters; in 2012, Marshall was acquitted of charges.
The city’s USOC deal was, and still is, viewed by many as controversial, said City Council President Scott Hente, who helped negotiate the agreement on behalf of the city.
“It never was [controversial] by me,” he said. “There are a lot of things on Council that I try to take the long view.”
This was one of those projects, Hente said. He was looking at the economic impact of the USOC and Olympic-related organizations and businesses. According to a 2010 audit by Deloitte, an international accounting and consulting firm, those Olympic-related organizations and businesses pumped $215 million annually into the local economy.
“The economics, in my mind, far outweighed the cost,” Hente said. “The long-term benefits were in the plus.”
The first part of the deal was getting the USOC headquarters building downtown. That building allowed USOC staff to move from the training center, which made room for the construction projects ongoing now, Jones said.
“Preceding these renovations, there was a lot of prep work to the grounds, there were buildings taken down; this has been a multi-year project,” he said.
It is challenging work, said Doug Woody, Bryan Construction project manager. Work is going on next to occupied buildings. More importantly, crews are keenly aware that the OTC is an iconic campus, whose buildings and grounds have been shown in photos across the world. More than 100,000 people tour the OTC each year and more than 150,000 others are guests at the training center, according to the USOC.
“It’s unique in what it is,” Woody said. “We are building a center for our Olympic athletes. With that comes a heightened sense of awareness and quality … this is a higher caliber of building than is typical.”
A couple of the unique features include electro-chromatic glass — self-tinting glass on timers used to block sun at certain times of the day. The indoor track is elevated at the second level and extends outside the building to allow sprinters to train.
Hente said the long-term view is seeing the Olympic Training Center as a part of the sports business ecosystem in the Pikes Peak region and he’s hopeful that it will grow.
Hente, who represented Council this week at the official dedication of the Manitou Incline, said sports, outdoor activities and health industry pieces fit together. The Incline is a place for world-class athletes to train, he said. University of Colorado Health, which took over city-owned Memorial Health System last year, has plans for a branch medical campus at the University of Colorado Colorado Springs. It adds up to Colorado Springs developing into a hub for sports and sports medicine, he said.
“I never thought [the city-USOC deal] would be controversial, maybe I was a little naïve,” Hente said. “I did think it would play out with the established headquarters downtown here to stay and the expansion of the [training center] campus … it was a hope founded on we have a lot to offer as a community.”
Housing: 242 rooms and 512 beds
About 681 Olympic athlete development camps annually
Resident sports: cycling, gymnastics, Paralympics cycling, modern pentathlon, shooting, Paralympics swimming, triathlon, weightlifting and wrestling
Other sports include basketball, bobsled,
boxing, ice hockey, judo, swimming,
taekwondo and volleyball.
About 10,000 athletes participate each year.
City-funded construction projects
Strength and conditioning addition
35,700 square feet, $5.8 million cost
Indoor agility field
Indoor training track
Visitor viewing area
Approximate completion date, fourth quarter 2013/first quarter 2014
Sports medicine and recovery area renovation
16,000 square feet, $2.4 million cost
Improved medicine and recovery center
Adjacent to strength and conditioning facility
Approximate completion date, third quarter of 2013