Walking the Olympic walk goes beyond C4C

You never know where a simple conversation might lead, how it might change your thinking, even inspire you.

So it was last weekend at an annual fundraiser roast for Cheyenne Village, the nonprofit provider of housing and other services for adults with developmental disabilities. (Disclosure: I’m a board member and past president.)

Bernard Sandoval and I had seen each other a night earlier at the Downtown Olympic Celebration coinciding with the start of the 2014 Winter Games. But we didn’t have the chance to visit until 24 hours later during that roast.

Sandoval, owner and president of Sandia Advertising and Design, mixes business with his own passion when it comes to promoting Colorado Springs. Nobody knows for sure who first coined the title of America’s Olympic City — I first wrote about it in 2007, longtime U.S. Olympic Committee spokesman Mike Moran (now with the Colorado Springs Sports Corp.) has used the phrase countless times, and Sandoval has helped considerably, also using his creative resources to cultivate visuals including classy logos.

The slogan really began taking off in the past two years, with Sandoval and Moran pushing in their ways and the USOC leadership giving its approval as long as using America’s Olympic City doesn’t violate trademark and licensing standards. There’s a sharp-looking Facebook page, with more than 1,000 likes, and the City for Champions campaign that, if successful, would enhance the downtown presence with an Olympic Museum and Hall of Fame alongside a stadium and events center.

If you’re fearing this column now will devolve into yet another C4C sermon, calm down. It’s not about that.

Sandoval and I talked about how Colorado Springs has to do more than just build facilities to justify our claim as America’s Olympic City. The more I thought about it, I realized the time has come to start a new conversation.

It’s time for Colorado Springs to start proving itself in other ways. Not just grandiose plans after those facilities are built, but now. In the next year, but ideally before the end of 2014.

Here’s how: We conceive, plan and pull off a new gala event to honor the U.S. Olympic movement. This wouldn’t have to include the Olympic Hall of Fame ceremony, although it could — there hasn’t been an induction since 2012.

What we could create is an annual America’s Olympic City Salute at The Broadmoor, with awards that would allow the USOC to have another spotlight event for athletes. The emcee could be someone such as NBC’s Bob Costas or Al Michaels (heck, why not both?), and the program would provide special honors in various categories. Here are some possibilities, including versions of USOC honors that already exist:

• Olympians of the Year, male and female plus team, recognizing accomplishments at the Winter and Summer Games in even-numbered years, other performances in odd years.

• Paralympians of the Year, male and female and team, with the same parameters.

• Comeback Athletes of the Year, male and female, following typical standards.

• USOC Sportsman and Sportswoman of the Year, flexible enough to serve as a career-capping recognition.

• Coaches of the Year, male and female, an area often overlooked in the Olympic realm.

• Olympic Training Center Resident Athletes of the Year, given solely to permanent residents for their achievements.

• Inspiration of the Year, which again could be open-ended and wouldn’t have to go to Olympians.

• National Governing Body of the year, honoring a USOC member sport.

The idea could be to announce most winners ahead of time, then perhaps bring in several finalists for the Olympians and Paralympians of the Year. Each winner would speak and mingle with the crowd, sitting at tables around the room. Top-notch highlight videos would add much to the occasion.

As part of the special weekend, we could have a separate luncheon and ceremony. It would bring two Olympic Hall of Fame members, and relatives of a third member no longer living, to Colorado Springs, and our city would honor them by unveiling life-size statues of each, placed along the walkways outside the museum and stadium. For instance, it could be Peggy Fleming, Carl Lewis and Jim Thorpe one year, perhaps Greg Louganis, Jackie Joyner-Kersee and Jesse Owens the next, and on and on.

An organizing group would make it happen, reshaping these ideas, and our Young Professionals could play a major role along with the Sports Corp.

You can be sure ESPN, or another cable sports network, would televise it — from America’s Olympic City.

That’s how we need to start thinking, and dreaming. With no limits.

Let’s make it happen.

6 Responses to Walking the Olympic walk goes beyond C4C

  1. “America’s Olympic City” is smart branding that is backed with substance: home to the USOC, the US Paralympic Committee and 23 National Governing Bodies. Such a slogan could begin to change the perception of Colorado Springs in the eyes of the rest of our state and, perhaps, the country. I like it!

    John Bourbonais
    February 18, 2014 at 10:56 pm

  2. Outstanding article, Ralph. Bernard is right on with his long-standing ideas about America’s Olympic City. Let’s all find a way to start proving ourselves worthy of that brand!

    Jennifer Taylor
    February 19, 2014 at 9:13 am

  3. Clearly the AOC is a solid idea from the standpoint that other competing markets could not credibly replicate what is embodied here in Colorado Springs, and that is one of the pillars of establishing a defendable brand. Staking a claim that others cannot credibly replicate. Sports Corp. would seemingly be the entity to take the lead in pushing it forward. It’s always been a wonder to me why our town is not mentioned more when the Olympics do roll around given our concentration of support and emphasis. Maybe this could be the nexus for such legitimate attention.

    Mark Masters, President, MarketMotion
    February 19, 2014 at 10:39 am

  4. What a great idea. This is why you should use local talent for local initiatives.

    Larry Hinkle
    February 19, 2014 at 12:53 pm

  5. Bernard Sandoval is an astute marketing strategist. I believe this concept, of instigating and conducting events which would amplify and enhance awareness of both Colorado Springs and its Olympic heritage, is entirely worthwhile.

    Stephen Beach
    February 19, 2014 at 4:21 pm

  6. As economists we like to have data when forecasting the future, but the best way to the future is making it happen and the first step is dreaming unabated. I hope that everyone joins in and dreams big about how to create our Olympic future in the Pikes Peak Region. Great job Ralph!

    Tom Binnings
    February 21, 2014 at 2:48 pm