Downtown Colorado Springs will soon be home to two new sports and events centers, according to plans released by the city Wednesday.
In partnership with Colorado College, the Colorado Springs Switchbacks, and Weidner Apartment Homes, the city says it will leverage state dollars to help fund a 10,000-20,000-person capacity outdoor stadium and a 3,000-seat indoor arena in the downtown area. The stadium will be the permanent home of the Colorado Springs Switchbacks soccer team, and the arena will replace the Broadmoor World Arena as home ice for the Colorado College Tigers hockey team.
"Our downtown is undergoing a dynamic transformation," said Colorado Springs Mayor John Suthers at a press conference unveiling the plans. "These projects will only add the the vitality at the heart of our city."
The announcement marks the culmination of the City for Champions project, which was born in 2013 as a proposal to secure millions of state dollars through the Regional Tourism Act of the Colorado Office of Economic Development and International Trade. Other projects recieving funding through City for Champions initiative include the United States Olympic Museum, a new sports medicine center at UCCS, and a new Gateway Visitor Center at the Air Force Academy.
The proposed stadium will be built at the "CityGate" property on the southwest side of Downtown Colorado Springs. Currently, the property comprises a large dirt and gravel parking lot south of Cimmaron Street, between Sierra Madre and Sahwatch Streets.
Press materials provided by the city say the stadium will seat 10,000 people for sporting events, and will be able to accomodate as many as 20,000 people for concerts.
Colorado Springs Switchbacks owner Ed Ragain says the new facility will be especially geared toward "high-tech" design.
"Our stadium is not going to be as big and grand as a lot [of others]," says Ragain, "but it's going to be unique in a way. When people see us on TV, whether you're in England or Ireland, Italy, Japan, all over North America, they're going to say, 'That's Colorado Springs, I recognize it because of its design and the type of digital content it's generating.'"
The plan is in keeping with a broader initiative on the part of the United Soccer League, the league to which the Switchbacks belong.
"As we move forward into the next decade, [United Soccer League] views soccer-specific stadiums as one of the key drivers for growth," says league senior vice president of corporate development Josh Keller. "The game day fan experience is really what separates soccer from any other sport out there, and we've witnessed how a new stadium can energize both a fan base as well as a local community. "
While several teams are currently planning or building new stadiums, he says he expects the Switchbacks facility will become one of the "marquee venues" across the league.
In addition to the stadium, the project will also include new mixed-use development in the area to be spearheaded by Weidner Apartment Homes, which is contributing $40 million to the project and will recieve naming rights to the stadium.
The stadium is expected to cost approximately $20 million, and the mixed-use development is estimated at $40 million. In addition to Weidner Apartment Homes' contribution, the Switchbacks will invest $10 million and City for Champions funding will account for the remaining $10 million.
Colorado College Arena
The proposed indoor facility will be called the Edward J. Robson Arena, named for an alumnus of the Colorado College class of 1954 who donated to the project. It will be built on the 800 block of N Tejon Street, bordered by Tejon, Nevada, Cache La Poudre, and Dale.
The arena is expected to cost approximately $39 million, $30 million of which will come from the college, and $9.2 million will be provided through the City for Champions money.
While the 3,000-seat building will primarily serve as the home rink for the Division 1 Tigers hockey team, Colorado College Board of Trustees Chair Susan Burghart emphasizes that the new multi-purpose venue "will offer a wealth of opportunities" for residents of Colorado Springs and the greater Pikes Peak community.
"It will join the Fine Arts Center in serving as a gateway to a vibrant downtown corridor, drawing even more visitors to the region and contributing to its economic strength," Berghart adds, refrencing the college's recent alliance with the Colorado Springs Fine Art Center.
The college says the building will be built according to sustainable design principles, much like the recently renovated Tutt Library, which the school describes as "the largest carbon-neutral, net-zero energy academic library in the United States."
CC athletic director Ken Ralph calls the new arena "a game-changer for both Colorado College and downtown Colorado Springs."
"While it's been a great two decades at Broadmoor Arena [where the team currently plays home games], we need to recognize that Colorado College has sponsored Division 1 hockey for almost 80 years, but has never had an on-campus home of its own," Ralph explains. He says the new facility will bring the school in line with peer institutions that are able to offer students an "on-campus athletics fan experience."
He says the college will also make the building available for events put on by the national and international sports organizations headquartered in Colorado Springs, and that the school's athletics staff will be able to provide support for those events.
Echoing the enthusiasm of city representatives and the other partners in the downtown stadium and arena plans, Ralph says he sees this final installment of the City for Champions project as a boon to Colorado Springs as it continues to position itself as Olympic City, USA.
"A decade from now, we're going to look back on this decision as one which helped not only accelerate our region's reputation for being a leader in sports, but as a model of responsible local government decision making," says Ralph.
The city says it hopes construction on both projects will begin by the end of this year, and be completed by spring of 2020.
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