City for Champions still controversial 

An El Paso County-commissioned study to vet the $250 million City for Champions tourism project won't be finished until after the state finalizes a resolution of agreement with the City of Colorado Springs.

That action is slated for Aug. 14 by the state Economic Development Commission. But City Councilman Joel Miller says the $45,000 study will be useless anyway, because it's not looking at key factors for C4C, which includes a downtown stadium, downtown Olympic museum, Air Force Academy visitors center and a sports medicine center at the University of Colorado at Colorado Springs.

BBC Research & Consulting of Denver was hired in mid-March and has been reviewing data and talking with "stakeholders including elected officials, community leaders and individuals associated with various elements of the projects," county spokeswoman Jennifer Brown says via email.

"At this point we are waiting on the final resolution as approved by the State Economic Development Commission, which is still being developed," she adds.

Miller says in an Aug. 3 letter to commissioners that the study is based on "overly optimistic numbers" for attendance and tax collections advanced by C4C proponents, and therefore "will be flawed."

Moreover, Miller says BBC's Ford Frick told him he won't conduct a cost-benefit analysis. Such research, Miller says, would look at the "substitution effect" — consumers' tendency to forgo spending at an existing venue to attend a new one — and "opportunity costs," the "what if" factor of channeling the money elsewhere, such as city infrastructure.

Miller also says he was surprised to learn from Frick that BBC hadn't been told that tax-increment financing (TIF) was being considered. The county sought the study in part because the county is being asked to help fund C4C by assigning $1.4 million a year, or $42 million over 30 years, through TIF — sales tax revenue growth over a baseline set in December 2013.

"I do not believe the BBC analysis will be a useful tool in determining the real costs and benefits of the C4C proposal," Miller writes.

Frick could not be reached for comment Tuesday morning. But County Budget Officer Nicola Sapp says via email that BBC has "developed an interactive economic impact model that allows for them to run scenarios and change assumptions as needed."

Commissioner Dennis Hisey has said the study would consider potential military downsizing, and other economic factors.

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