Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Bach: Get the facts on City for Champions and then decide

Posted By on Tue, Aug 13, 2013 at 12:54 PM

Mayor Steve Bach held his monthly news conference this morning, and said in his opening remarks that the "organizing committee" for the city's City for Champions proposal for state tax money plans a "robust" community information process that will begin soon.
  • City of Colorado Springs

So when the Q-and-A part rolled around, we asked: What happens if the community information process demonstrates overwhelming opposition to the plan? Is there a Plan B?

The proposal, by the way, calls for building a downtown baseball stadium, Olympic museum, new Air Force Academy visitors center and a sports medicine facility at the University of Colorado at Colorado Springs. Funding: $82 million from state sales tax rebates, $61 million in donations, and $74 million in "public funding."

Judging from Bach's answer, something strange is going on. First, he was the one who issued a news release about a big announcement that would take place in America the Beautiful Park on July 1. He presided over that news conference, where the project was unveiled publicly. Moreover, the proposal submitted to the state for Regional Tourism Act money came from the city.

All that said, suddenly it's somebody else's idea and responsibility, based on Bach's statements today.

"This is a proposal being brought forward by an organizing committee, made up of Bill Hybl of El Pomar Foundation and Philip Anschutz of El Pomar [he's actually a billionaire who owns the Broadmoor resort and the Gazette, but is not part of El Pomar]; Doug Price with the Better Business Bureau [he's actually with the convention and visitors bureau]; Dick Celeste, the former governor of Ohio who attracted The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame to Cleveland, and also past president of Colorado College; Pam Shockley, chancellor of UCCS; and Academy Superintendent Mike Gould who just retired yesterday; along with support from Scott Blackmun of the U.S. Olympic Committee and the Downtown Development Authority. So, they put that package together.

"In terms of the next steps, first of all, we need state approval. Without state grant funding ... these projects will not happen," he said.

"I understand the organizing committee is going to be launching a community information campaign to explain how each of these venues will be built," he continued. "There’s still plenty of room for ideas from everybody on that, in terms of design and content and how the construction will be funded and how these will be self-sustaining. The organizing committee will need to make the case to the community and they will. I just ask you to keep an open mind till that happens."

Finally he got around to the question at hand.

"As for plan B, if we do not receive the Regional Tourism Act funding, game over. There won’t be the money to build these venues. I hope everyone will support this in concept subject to knowing all the facts. You deserve to know all the facts. Be sure to get all the facts." 

Then he made the following promise, which he's stated previously.

"If there’s gonna be borrowing done by the city of Colorado Springs," he said, "those certificates of participation previous administrations used to go around the voters, that will not happen on my watch. If we’re gonna borrow any money as a city, I’ll ask the voters to decide that. I will not support any kind of tax increase or any kind of fee to fund these venues."

Bach's economic vitality point person Aimee Cox promised us a schedule of public meetings the organizing committee will hold. We'll bring that to you just as soon as we get it.

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