U.S. Olympic Museum, Colorado Springs. Preliminary design concept by Diller Scofidio + Renfro.

(Image courtesy of Diller Scofidio + Renfro)

Former Ohio Gov. Richard Celeste helped bring the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame to the struggling rust-belt city of Cleveland. Now, he’s the driving force behind the U.S. Olympic Museum project in a city he knows well, Colorado Springs.

Celeste, who was president of Colorado College from 2002 to 2011, thinks it will become a major destination for travelers from all over the world. He’s spent the last three years raising funds for the $70 million project, which would be located in downtown Colorado Springs.

He spoke with Colorado Matters host Ryan Warner.

On what visitors will experience at the museum:

“We want to make it a very hands-on kind of experience. Athletes have told us that the most exciting moment of the Olympics is when you enter the stadium for the first time in the Parade of Nations. So one of our exhibits will seek to re-create that moment for visitors.”

On who will visit the museum:

“We believe that we will comfortably see 350,000 to 400,00 visitors a year. The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in Cleveland attracts 450,000 visitors a year…. We’re confident, especially given for example the number of people who visit Royal Gorge or who go through Garden of the Gods every year, that this museum will be a place that people will want to come from all over the country, and frankly from around the world.”

On the museum’s potential economic impact:

“A pilgrimage museum like this generates tremendous support for a variety of activities--retail, hospitality, and so on--in the community. I believe it’s going to bring several hundred thousand new visitors to Colorado.”