Time for C4C donors to step up

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For months now, naysayers and skeptics have been taking repeated potshots at City for Champions — many questioning the usage and revenue forecasts for the four projects, others criticizing the lack of transparency, but everyone wondering how organizers will make it to an acceptable bottom line.

Through it all, we’ve been assured, there’s no reason to worry. The financing eventually will fall into place, and City for Champions will happen thereafter.

Of course, “blind trust” is not part of the journalism lexicon. What we’ve continued to witness has been a calm, almost smug air of certainty that the bankrolling of C4C will happen if everyone else will just stay out of the way.

But that hasn’t been the case. Even many of C4C’s staunchest supporters still would feel much better with more concrete evidence that solutions are in the works.

The calendar might help with two approaching deadlines, part of the agreement between Colorado Springs and the state Economic Development Commission.

First, in just three weeks, the city has to turn in early plans to the state’s Office of Economic Development and International Trade, which handles the Colorado EDC and the Regional Tourism Act. Then, by April 15, the city and the OEDIT must agree to a contract on how the City for Champions will be funded, which has to be done within 120 days of the initial approval back on Dec. 16.

We have the distinct impression that a lot of those skeptics want to see public announcements of those pledges before they will believe City for Champions can happen.

Our understanding is that the contract can’t be just a batch of numbers that add up. It has to include more specific details, not just goals.

And that would include at least $48 million, if not much more, in private funding — most if not all to come in the form of gifts by foundations.

That’s a large chunk, to say the least. And we have the distinct impression that a lot of those skeptics want to see public announcements of those pledges before they will believe City for Champions can happen.

Yes, El Pomar Foundation chairman and CEO Bill Hybl has promised a substantial donation from this region’s leading philanthropic organization. Hybl also told the state EDC in December that some of Colorado’s other prominent foundations could “expect a friendly visit,” which obviously would include a significant funding request.

We assume Colorado Springs won’t have to reveal $48 million in pledged donations to satisfy the deadline for its contract with the state OEDIT. But more specifics would make a far more convincing case, especially if substantial front-end pledges came from major foundations and perhaps from Broadmoor owner Philip Anschutz, possibly to go toward more involved design work on the Olympic museum and adjacent stadium/events center.

Let’s put it another way: With one news conference, perhaps leading to a series of media events giving different foundations their separate moments in the spotlight, the City for Champions organizers could at least neutralize many of the doubters by making public the initial commitments they are receiving.

And with those planned donations as leverage, City for Champions suddenly could have all the momentum it needs to become reality.