Air Force Academy breaks ground on new $40 million visitor center

Courtesy U.S. Air Force Academy
An artist rendering of the $40 million, 32,000 square foot U.S. Air Force Academy visitor center scheduled to open in northern Colorado Springs in 2024.

The United States Air Force Academy broke ground Monday on a new, $40 million visitor center. It’s part of a much larger development in northern Colorado Springs that will also include a 375-room hotel and conference center. 

The visitor center marks the final of five major civic investment projects in Colorado Springs dubbed the “City for Champions” initiative. The massive public-private partnership also includes the U.S. Olympic and Paralympic Museum, new stadiums for the Switchbacks minor league soccer and Colorado College hockey teams, and a Sports Medicine Center at University of Colorado Colorado Springs.  

“Today, we begin the final leg on the journey. It’s difficult to imagine more catalytic and impactful projects with more transformational effect on Colorado Springs than the City for Champions initiative,” said the city’s Mayor John Suthers at Monday’s ground-breaking. 

Suthers said he expects the five venues to generate billions of dollars in revenue for Colorado Springs in the coming years.

Dan Boyce/CPR News
(From Left) Air Force Academy Foundation representative Jerome Bruni, Colorado Lt. Gov. Dianne Primavera, project developer Dan Schnepf, Air Force Academy Superintendent Lt. Gen. Richard M. Clark, Colorado Springs Mayor John Suthers and Deputy Asst. Sec. of the Air Force for Installations Robert Moriarty take place in a ceremonial groundbreaking ceremony for a new U.S. Air Force Academy visitor center on July 25, 2022.

The new visitor center will replace an aging facility located a 10-minute drive past an Air Force security checkpoint installed at the academy following the 9/11 attacks — which caused tourist visitation to the Academy to plummet in the two decades since. 

When the new jet-wing inspired glass and steel venue opens just beside Interstate 25, it will be located outside of that security checkpoint.

“As travelers crest that hill from Monument on their way [south] into Colorado Springs, this is going to be a physical, multi-story front door drawing people in and highlighting the country’s premier institution for developing leaders of character,” said Academy Superintendent Lt. Gen. Richard M. Clark. 

The 32,000 square foot visitor center will introduce guests to what life is like for cadets and may display aircraft, spacecraft and satellites within its main atrium, according to an Air Force Academy press release. It’s expected to open sometime in 2024.