Apparently, at least for now, the Colorado Springs Sky Sox won’t be moving to a new downtown stadium after all.
City leaders are revising their application to the Colorado Economic Development Commission for funding through the Regional Tourism Act, and the state EDC has given Colorado Springs an extra two days to respond to the third-party analysis of the proposed projects. The revisions will include altering the proposed baseball/multi-use stadium to accommodate more Olympic sports and not be as focused on baseball.
Originally, the city’s response was due by 5 p.m. Friday. But the deadline has been extended, according to Doug Price, CEO of the Colorado Springs Convention and Visitors Bureau.
“Because of the (Veterans Day) holiday, they wouldn’t be able to look at it until after Monday,” Price said, “so they’re giving us a couple of extra days.”
The city requested $82.5 million in state tax increment funding for the projects, including a downtown baseball stadium, an Olympic museum, a new Air Force Academy Visitor Center, and a UCCS sports medicine center.
Economic Planning Systems, the third-party analyst retained by the state, said that none of the projects qualified for state funding as presented. EPS reduced the maximum amount of state funding to $31,5 million, removed the UCCS facility from consideration, and faulted the city for failing to provide credible information concerning funding, construction costs, site acquisition, operating costs and revenue for the projects. EPS singled out the Olympic Museum as the sole project among the four that most nearly conforms with the funding requirements of the Regional Tourism Act.
“I’ve been spending a lot of time with (Nor’wood Development Group president) Chris Jenkins and (City Economic Vitality Coordinator) Bob Cope this week,” Price said.
They’re making some substantial changes in the application, he added.
“There’s been a great deal of community dialogue,” Price noted “and we’ve all seen that the stadium has been under a lot of public scrutiny. The citizens of Colorado Springs have made it clear that they want the Sky Sox to stay where they are – and if the Sky Sox want to stay out on Powers, more power to them.”
Price also pointed out that the baseball stadium, as originally conceived, would generate few new out-of-state visitors compared to the other projects.
“It’s only 7.65 percent of attendance,” he said, “so we’re looking at a different kind of venue.”
It will no longer be a baseball stadium, but a facility focused on Olympic sports, one designed to complement the adjacent Olympic museum.
“We think that it’s better utilized for sporting events that are more Olympic-related,” he said. “We think there are a number of national governing bodies that would schedule events and competitions here. We’re not shutting the door to baseball use sometime down the road, but it’s not our focus.”
The city will also provide more information about the UCCS Sports Medicine Center, hoping that EPS and the Economic Development Commission will put it back into the mix.
“Be assured, we’re doing everything we can to keep it in,” Price emphasized.
The city plans to release a summary of its response to the EPS report on Nov. 13 and make the full text of the response available at a media briefing the following day.