The U.S. Olympic Museum’s organizers announced Thursday that they have inked a deal with the U.S. Olympic Committee for their project to be, in name and in fact, the official U.S. Olympic Museum.
Here’s the press release:
The United States Olympic Museum announced today that it has signed a 30-year agreement with the United States Olympic Committee, renewable in 10-year increments.
Richard Celeste, President of the U.S. Olympic Museum Board of Directors, stated, “This agreement is the result of nearly two years of effort on the part of a group of dedicated citizens who share a vision of building a world-class museum dedicated to the values of the Olympic and Paralympic movements and the efforts and achievements of the U.S. athletes of the modern games. We are grateful to the leadership of the USOC for the confidence they have placed in us. We will strive to achieve the same level of excellence in the planned museum experience that characterizes the very best of our Olympians and Paralympians.”
The agreement acknowledges that the nonprofit U.S. Olympic Museum was formed to develop, build, own and operate a state-of-the-art, iconic museum in downtown Colorado Springs to include:
1) A curated collection of historically significant artifacts associated with the United States’ participation in the Olympic and Paralympic Games
2) Interactive exhibits with video and audio presentations, facilities for temporary exhibitions and permanent collections relating to the U.S. and global Olympic and Paralympic movements to immerse visitors in the drama and exhilaration of Olympic and Paralympic competition, and capacity to host special celebrations and events
3) Home to the U.S. Olympic Hall of Fame dedicated to American athletes who have followed their dreams.
Scott Blackmun, CEO of the USOC stated, “The agreement reached this week ensures that the U.S. Olympic Museum will be the type of world-class experience that fans of Team USA and the Olympic and Paralympic Games expect, and we’re pleased to contribute to the museum’s long-term success. I’d like to thank Dick Celeste for his tireless efforts on behalf of the museum and his continued commitment to making the Pikes Peak region an even better place to live and work.”
Celeste added, “With the signing of this agreement, the effort to raise the funding required to move forward will begin in earnest. Our goal is to secure at least $70 million in private donations in order to build an inspiring and extraordinarily dynamic venue. In the process, we believe this can significantly lift tourism visits to Colorado Springs, kick-start activity in the SouthwestUrban Renewal Area, and ideally create a corridor that links downtown directly into America the Beautiful Park.”
Colorado Springs Mayor Steve Bach stated, “This is a significant milestone in the process of building a United States Olympic Museum in Colorado Springs. I appreciate the efforts of the United States Olympic Committee and the United States Olympic Museum Corporation in completing this agreement. We are proud to be the home of the USOC and a future Olympic Museum and we are truly becoming America’s Olympic City.”
The release is interesting, not so much for what it contains as for what it doesn’t contain.
For one thing, there’s no mention of the City for Champions project, of which the museum is an integral component. For another, Dick Celeste is quoted as saying that “our goal is to raise at least $70 million in private donations.”
The original C4C proposal called for $32.6 million to be privately raised, supported by an additional $26.7 million in state tax-increment funding. In addition, the project would benefit from $51 million in in infrastructure improvements in the southwest downtown, funded by both SSTIF ($19.8 million) and local public sector funding ($31.2 million).
Asked about the increase, Museum executive coordinator Kristen Downs was succinct, if unrevealing.
“Our goal is to make sure the museum goes forward,” she said.
It’s reasonable to assume that Celeste is ready to go it alone, and get the project done regardless of the fate of City for Champions or of the City Council’s willingness to fund infrastructure improvements by authorizing TIF-funded bonds that would be issued by the Colorado Springs Urban Renewal Authority.
It’s an audacious plan, and one that isn’t without pitfalls. Suppose fundraising falls short, with potential funders spooked by the city’s lack of support for the project? Suppose another city woos Celeste and the USOC?
We might then have a LeBron James moment, a Dick Celeste/Scott Blackmon press conference that concludes with these words:
“We’re taking our talents to Indianapolis.”