The City of Colorado Springs today announced plans to move forward with the fourth City for Champions project – the Colorado Sports and Event Center. Comprised of two separate facilities, these will be state of the art, multi-purpose venues designed to host professional, Olympic and amateur sporting events as well as entertainment and cultural events. The outdoor downtown stadium will become the permanent home of the Colorado Springs Switchbacks FC, while the event center will serve as the new home of the Colorado College ice hockey team.
Partnering and providing private financial funding in the venture are Colorado College, the Colorado Springs Switchbacks FC and Weidner Apartment Homes. The next step in the project is the presentation of the business plan and finding of commencement of substantial work toward the project by the Colorado Economic Development Commission at its meeting in September.
“It gives me great pride to announce that the City of Colorado Springs is ready to effectively leverage $27.7 million in State City for Champions funding to build a downtown sports stadium and events center,” said Colorado Springs Mayor John Suthers. “Today’s announcement is the culmination of a lot of hard work and an incredible collaboration between a number of private partners. While this project represents a significant benefit to our city’s economy and cultural and sports offerings, we have remained committed to the desire of our voters to accomplish this feat through private partnerships and investments and not with local general fund tax money. To that end, I’m incredibly pleased to announce that we have an excellent proposal and a plan to move forward on these facilities.”
“These venues and their operations blend well with our dynamic sports economy and are a perfect fit for Olympic City USA and the other City for Champions projects. Both facilities also capitalize on the momentum taking place and substantial investments being made in downtown Colorado Springs,” said Dirk Draper, Colorado Springs Chamber & EDC CEO and president.
The proposed downtown stadium will be located at CityGate, a property located at one of the city core’s entrances near Interstate 25. The facility will be a mixed-use development that will feature a rectangular field of play and will serve as the permanent home of the Colorado Springs Switchbacks FC. The stadium, containing 10,000 spectator seats for sporting events, will be a multi-use facility that will accommodate a variety of sporting and entertainment events. Capacity for concert events will be 20,000.
“In 2013, when I was looking to start a professional Soccer franchise somewhere in Colorado, Colorado Springs stuck out as a City that had a passion for sports and a vision for growth,” said Ed Ragain, owner of the Colorado Springs Switchbacks. “It is amazing to be standing before you today announcing our plans to complete a long desired downtown sports stadium in this great city. In my professional career, I had the opportunity to be a part of designing and building some of the largest and most successful sports stadiums on the planet. It has been inspiring to witness the way that many of these facilities have changed the trajectory of neighborhoods and cities through lifestyle enhancement. While our stadium project is smaller in scale, we are committed to design features that bring forward a great sports environment.”
Alex Papadakis, CEO of the United Soccer League added,
“Two key elements were considered in awarding the Ragains a USL franchise back in 2013, namely Ed Ragain’s experience with sporting venues and the strong community support from Colorado Springs. The City for Champions downtown stadium project brings those two key elements together for the benefit of the community, the Switchbacks’ loyal fans, and the future long-term sustainability of the USL franchise in Colorado Springs.”
The stadium will be constructed together with a mixed-use residential and commercial development in partnership with Weidner Apartment Homes. Weidner will receive naming rights to the stadium. The combined project is estimated at $60 million dollars. The Colorado Springs Switchbacks FC, a United Soccer League franchise, will be the primary tenant of the stadium, and Ragain Sports, a separate business, will be tasked to operate and program the facility with additional events.
Indoor Events Center
The indoor events center at Colorado College, named the Edward J. Robson Arena, will feature 3,000 seats and capabilities to host ice-based and other sports, as well as entertainment events. The planned arena is comparable in size to the arenas of colleges and universities that have similar numbers of students and Division I hockey programs. The arena will be built at the college, allowing the school’s hockey team to play games on campus for the first time since the program started in 1938.
“Thanks to this partnership and the generosity of donors including alumnus Ed Robson, Class of 1954, the Lyon family, Penrose-St. Francis Health Services and others, the college is moving forward with this ambitious project,” said Colorado College President Jill Tiefenthaler. “We’re also thrilled to partner with the City for Champions Initiative, the Colorado Economic Development Commission, the Weidner family, and the Colorado Springs Switchbacks on this hockey venue, which will greatly benefit both the college and downtown.”
Initially planned as a practice venue, Tiefenthaler said that the city’s investment, through City for Champions, as well as commitments from a number of donors, will help the college create a multi-purpose state-of-the-art, sustainable venue that will benefit both the college and the city.
“This is an exciting time for Colorado College and for Colorado Springs,” said Tiefenthaler. “Robson Arena will become known as a premier destination for CC’s Division I competition as well as national and international events with our Olympic partners.”
The economic impact of the Sports and Event Center project is forecasted at $32 million annually and $1 billion over 30 years. The project is also estimated to generate $1 million dollars in new city sales tax revenue each year and is anticipated to generate more than 650 new jobs.
This project impact is a vital part of the combined impact of the four City for Champions projects, which will:
- Boost the region’s $1.35 billion annual tourism industry
- Attract about 1.2 million visitors each year
- Add more than 500,000 new out-of-state visitors annually
- Increase retail sales by $140 million each year
- Increase gross metropolitan product by $217 million annually
- Add $4.4 million in new sales tax revenue for the city annually
- Add $2 million in new sales tax revenue for the county annually
- Leverage a $120.5 million state tourism improvement rebate
- Allow 23 local TEAM USA National Governing Bodies to host pre-Olympic & Paralympic and world championship events in Colorado Springs