RTA proposal moves away from baseball

Proposed stadium (left) now would seat 10,000 along with an adjacent 3,000-seat indoor arena.

Proposed stadium (left) now would seat 10,000 along with an adjacent 3,000-seat indoor arena.

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.

One Response to RTA proposal moves away from baseball

  1. What concerns me is the apparent failure of people like Mr. Price and the Mayor to consider this issue on a full and realistic city wide basis. Mr. Price uses the phrase, “If the Sky Sox want to stay OUT on Powers, more power to them.”

    The real fact is the current Sky Sox location is far, far closer (within a few hundred yards in fact) to the actual population center and the actual geographic center of Colorado Springs than current Old Town. Old Town is a more accurate name for Downtown, and Old Town is now about eight MILES west of the real Downtown that Powers Blvd retail operations represent.

    Old Town is representative of only 1% of the City’s revenue, and is located on the FAR west side of Colorado Springs. Most (99%) of the real, nationally established retailers long ago abandoned the “downtown” because of political favoritism and stupid design. Facts have a nasty way of wrecking fantasy island thinking. None of the new proposals are going to correct Old Town’s problems. Old Town has major street design problems. The sixty year old parking problem is laughable.

    Colorado Springs voters have voted down a convention center for downtown five times. This is because convention centers have failed nationwide. Renaming the convention center to “sports stadium” is not going to fix this problem.

    The development of the internet is massively and permanently changing how retail works. A personal computer in your kitchen gives you access to the biggest and most dynamic “department store” ever designed. This is why the Citadel and Chapel Hills Shopping Centers are failing. These big buildings will make very nice “convention centers.” Just be patient.

    Want to improve tourism? Build a full sized replica of the Statue of Liberty on top of Pikes Peak. Make it gleaming white. Make it tall enough so the room inside the torch hand is the highest point in Colorado and therefore, the highest point in the continental United States. Millions of people will come to see that. Build another dull convention center/sports stadium and be prepared to be ignored by the people, who will be watching sporting events on their 80″ LED TVs in their homes.

    November 16, 2013 at 2:20 am