As we all know, nobody asked the public — and certainly not the media — for thoughts and ideas before Colorado Springs submitted its application for state Regional Tourism Act tax funding.
Nobody wondered if even a little community brainstorming might produce better dreams for ambitious projects than the $218 million package being put forward to enhance downtown, UCCS and the Air Force Academy.
We won’t belabor the point of our being frustrated at how that process unfolded. We only hope that it doesn’t come back to haunt Colorado Springs, because no effort was made to build local awareness, support and even excitement on the front end.
However, we do feel compelled to suggest one possible revision. And by “we,” that doesn’t mean the Business Journal. It’s also not just me. In fact, I’m representing at least a handful of people who care deeply about this city’s future and see this juncture as a huge, even historic opportunity.
Some of us have been bouncing around a different idea. Given the circumstances, though, it doesn’t make sense to appeal to Mayor Steve Bach or even that handpicked “inner circle” of eight people who shaped the Regional Tourism Act application.
Our only choice, and only hope, is to go straight to the one person who could make such a change — Philip Anschutz, the billionaire owner of The Broadmoor, The Gazette and so many more huge sports, entertainment, business and other entities.
We appreciate and admire your investments in Colorado Springs, and your interest in helping us create a lasting legacy that can maintain our city’s stature for generations to come. It’s gratifying that you have given your approval to the Regional Tourism Act package.
We totally agree with the basic concept, and certainly with its immense potential for bringing many thousands of new visitors to the Pikes Peak region every year.
But we would respectfully ask you to reconsider one portion of the package. We honestly feel that a new downtown baseball stadium, even if marketed and sold as a multi-use facility, isn’t the best use of about $60 million in funds pulled from various sources.
From every indication we’ve seen, a stadium whose main tenant would be minor-league baseball cannot realistically be expected to enhance the area’s tourism. Quality of life, perhaps, but not tourism. In various other peer cities, downtown stadiums have thrived for a while but then have experienced steady decreases in attendance, with Oklahoma City and Memphis as recent (and ongoing) notable examples.
So if not a stadium, what could work? Mr. Anschutz, you can provide the perfect solution. You can build a Broadmoor Convention and Civic Center in downtown Colorado Springs, large enough to attract a whole new level of top-caliber conventions, meetings and events. The same state tax money, taken from fresh revenues that the convention center would produce year-round, would help make it happen.
You could include an adjacent Broadmoor City Center hotel, which could handle smaller groups and other guests. Obviously, though, the plan would be to bring in groups that could fill the existing Broadmoor resort as well. (Some have even thought of a possible monorail that could run between downtown and the main hotel. Bold ideas for a bold project.)
All those visitors would provide a perfect, ever-changing clientele for the Olympic museum, which would be just steps away, as well as the planned science center that easily could combine with the Space Foundation and its many fascinating exhibits. And with that many more visitors, Colorado Springs certainly should be able to lure new airline service in years to come.
The new facility also could inspire an entire new stratosphere in local events, able to handle groups of 1,000 or many more that have no current indoor-venue options in Colorado Springs. And for many, the best part of having such a world-class Broadmoor downtown complex would be having it privately owned and operated by your company, which local residents have indicated as their preference.
Surely, the same space now planned for the stadium would be sufficient for a convention and civic center. And since the Broadmoor’s name would be attached, Mr. Anschutz, you could set the standards yourself. Obviously, your own name would be appropriate on any part of it.
Imagine what a treasure this could create for Colorado Springs, and what an extraordinary gift to future generations. We hope you will agree, and give this idea serious consideration.
As already mentioned, nobody else can make this happen, and it would guarantee you a permanent place in this city’s history alongside the legendary names of Palmer and Penrose.
Please think about it. That’s all we ask.