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Colorado Springs' tourism pitch: screwball 

Ranger Rich

As you likely know, here's what progressive and futuristic Mayor Steve "I'm Told That People Who Smoke Pot Often Stumble Right Off the Edge of the Earth" Bach is going to build for us: a dazzling downtown baseball stadium, a breathtaking Olympic museum, a state-of-the-art sports medicine center and a shiny new Air Force Academy visitors center. All for just $219 million.

The money for these mega-projects will come from the usual source: Each villager will be required to leave a couple of teeth under the pillow for the Tooth Fairy. (Those folks who attend El Paso County Sheriff Terry Maketa's drum-pounding, anti-gun control meetings are exempt from the tooth-donation program. Frankly, they've given enough.)

Additional funds for these projects will be generated by wagering on unicorn races, photo ops with the Easter Bunny, mermaid-spotting excursions along Monument Creek, a lottery for the chance to meet Odin, king of the Norse gods who gave up an eye to gain wisdom and power, excursions to Prospect Lake to find Puff the Magic Dragon and, of course, shuttling tourists into the foothills on Bigfoot hunts.

Note: I don't want to ruin the Bigfoot thing, but don't be surprised if the creature is tall, has dyed reddish hair, seems to have anger management issues, and stops dead in its tracks when you yell, "Mayor Bach?"

The projects together have been dubbed the "City for Champions," a name that narrowly beat out other fine suggestions including "City for Minimum Wage" and "City That Time Forgot."

The complex plan was laid out last week in an 80-page application for the state's Office of Economic Development and International Trade that asks Colorado for $82 million in state sales tax rebates under the Regional Tourism Act toward the four projects — projects that, in complex legal terms, hapenus whillei neverum ("will never happen").

In addition to the $82 million we will not receive from the state, we will also not get $61 million from private funding and will definitely not get $75 million in public funding. On a more positive note, the mayor says the city could possibly get around to filling that pothole on your street by the year 2147.

According to Bach, the projects will draw nearly half a million non-Colorado tourists per year, generating $6.9 billion in new state retail sales taxes and $312 million in local sales tax annually. From Indy senior reporter Pam Zubeck ("How to be a 'Champion,'" News, July 10): "... it's unknown where those figures came from."

Although sources tell me the mayor tore a hole in the back of his boxer shorts while he was pulling the numbers out.

Let's look at the beautiful new downtown Sky Sox baseball stadium and events center, which would cost about $60 million and sit on a massive foundation of concrete that will be poured on top of the city's homeless people, in a move Bach calls "killing two birds with one stone." Among the estimated 287,786,014 problems with the city's request for the state money is this: The application process requires that "land control" for the sites be obtained first. David Supperstein and Michael Trapp own interests in the proposed stadium land and both tell the Indy they haven't heard a word from the city.

And the proposed $59.4 million Olympic museum — as I hear it, an interactive wing would allow visitors to have their arms and legs simultaneously pinned behind their back by a Greco-Roman wrestler — would require some $33 million from private sources. The application says "exploratory presentations" have found several people and groups willing to "entertain a request."

And even though the Air Force Academy already has a very nice visitors center, the mayor's plan includes spending $20.5 million on a new one.

All in all, it's enough to make Norse god Odin roll his eye.

Rich Tosches (rangerrich@csindy.com) also writes a Sunday column in the Denver Post.

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