Apparently, at least for now, the Colorado Springs Sky Sox won’t be moving to a new downtown stadium after all.
City leaders have revised their application to the Colorado Economic Development Commission for funding through the Regional Tourism Act, after the state EDC gave Colorado Springs leaders extra time to respond to the third-party analysis of the projects.
The revisions include altering the proposed baseball/multi-use stadium to accommodate more Olympic sports and not be as focused on baseball.
The new stadium concept, according to the city’s 58-page response, will be “a two-venue complex” adjacent to the Olympic museum.
“The larger venue will have a reconfigurable field and a seating capacity of 10,000,” the report said, adding that a smaller indoor venue will seat 3,000.
Sky Sox owner Dave Elmore had not signed on to the idea of moving downtown, and there had been indications in public forums and from surveys of fans that many didn’t want the franchise to move from its Stetson Hills stadium located east of Powers Boulevard on Barnes Road.
Other factors entered into the decision to change the downtown stadium’s focus, according to Doug Price, CEO of the Colorado Springs Convention and Visitors Bureau and one of the working group members who revised the RTA application.
The city requested $82.5 million in state tax increment funding for the projects, including the downtown 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, concluded 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. The city’s response contested many of EPS’ calculations.
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. But that didn’t deter the local effort.
The city’s response addressed one concern with letters from the likes of El Pomar Foundation chairman and CEO Bill Hybl, saying El Pomar would “look favorably” on a request for a “significant gift” to help fund the Olympic museum, pending support from other major donors. Supportive letters also came from U.S. Olympic Committee CEO Scott Blackmun and Mayor Steve Bach.
Letters aside, the city made substantial changes in the application, Price 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.
Price said the revised two-venue concept is “better utilized for sporting events that are more Olympic-related. 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 also provided 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 planned a news conference Friday to discuss its response.