Anschutz could earn his place among city’s legends

This story begins on a wintry night in March 1987. Well more than a hundred people gathered at the home of William Thayer Tutt, who had ruled over The Broadmoor and its presence in the sports world for most of his adult life.

Tutt, using Broadmoor and El Pomar Foundation resources, had done more personally than anyone to make Colorado Springs a major player on the American and global sports scenes.

He had become a powerful force inside Olympic sports, bringing the World Figure Skating Championships to North America for the first time in 1959 — and on several more occasions thereafter. He also attracted a handful of U.S. Figure Skating Championships, the first 10 NCAA hockey championships (1948-57, and then another in 1969) and plenty of other world-caliber hockey and skating events to the old Broadmoor World Arena. Without his support, it’s safe to say that Colorado College hockey might not have lasted, with El Pomar providing major support toward scholarships.

Tutt also made a big deal out of golf, attracting such major tournaments as the U.S. Men’s Amateur, the U.S. Women’s Amateur and the World Senior Championships. Every summer, the nation’s top men and women amateurs came to town for tourneys hosted by The Broadmoor. And, of course, Tutt was heavily involved with the Pikes Peak Auto Hill Climb and the Pikes Peak or Bust Rodeo.

Even in his 60s, Tutt refused to slow down, playing a prominent role in convincing the U.S. Olympic Committee to move its headquarters from New York to Colorado Springs in the late 1970s — on the grounds of the then-embryonic Olympic Training Center.

On that night in 1987, though, Tutt wasn’t the organizer or facilitator. The invited guests came to help Tutt celebrate his 75th birthday, and it was a grand party in every way.

At one point that evening, the phone rang. And instantly, whispers filled the house. Someone said it might be the White House, with President Ronald Reagan calling to offer best wishes.

Tutt took the call, and eventually we learned that it was an old friend from the hockey world in Europe, just saying happy birthday. But the crowd had gone silent, for one reason. Everyone knew that it really might be the president, and not one person would have been surprised.

Tutt would only live to see one more birthday before his death in February 1989. After him, Bill Hybl soon rose in Olympic stature, serving twice as USOC president and maintaining the city’s close ties. But Colorado Springs hasn’t had a bigger-than-life presence since Thayer Tutt – until now.

Philip Anschutz already had built his global empire before taking an interest in Colorado Springs by purchasing The Broadmoor and then The Gazette. His style is nothing like the way Tutt operated, in that Anschutz doesn’t move in the Springs’ social circles. He doesn’t need or want that.

However, Anschutz clearly has the chance to have a greater impact. Tutt had the position, and passion, to influence everyone around him — and the city’s sports environment — for as long as he lived. But he didn’t have the personal wealth to create a permanent legacy.

Anschutz, of course, possesses that kind of massive wealth, putting him alongside legends who used their own money, property and ingenuity to make Colorado Springs a special place: Gen. William J. Palmer, Winfield Scott Stratton, Spencer Penrose.

We’ve seen how Anschutz has reached far beyond the scope of any single city, affecting the likes of Los Angeles, London, Shanghai, Sydney, Beijing and more. Closer to home, we’ve seen how he has poured millions into such entities as the University of Colorado School of Medicine, and now The Broadmoor.

We’ve also been told that, having come here on vacations since childhood, Anschutz admires how Palmer and Penrose steered the city and shaped its personality for generations after they were gone.

That’s the kind of impact, and influence, Philip Anschutz can have now. He can draw upon his own enormous assets, causing hardly a ripple on his personal bottom line, and put himself on that same lofty plane with Palmer and Penrose as names to be revered forever here.

Clearly, though, it’s not part of the Anschutz script just to buy his way into immortality. The causes, projects and/or community outcomes have to make sense, and they have to fit the man’s philosophy. If he sees all that as being worth the investment, Anschutz can write his own chapters in Colorado Springs’ history, even if he chooses not to give the city a chance to see him and publicly express its appreciation.

And though he doesn’t give media interviews, if you’ve read this entire Business Journal package about the man, perhaps now you understand why we believe it was worth doing.