Thursday, October 8, 2015

Stadium still a nagging question

Posted By on Thu, Oct 8, 2015 at 2:57 PM

Though Joel Miller left his City Council seat almost a year ago, he's still beating the drum over issues surrounding a proposed downtown stadium, part of the city's City for Champions tourism project package. (Miller resigned to run for mayor and then was defeated in the mayor's race in April.)
click to enlarge Miller: Still raising questions about a stadium. - FILE PHOTO
  • File photo
  • Miller: Still raising questions about a stadium.
On Sept. 28, he sent a letter to the State Audit Committee, urging the panel to revisit the Regional Tourism Act and the calculations that resulted in the Economic Development Commission's 2013 decision to give Colorado Springs $120.5 million over 30 years to build a number of tourism venues, including a downtown stadium.

The other attractions — an Olympics museum, sports medicine center and Air Force Academy visitors center — seem to be making progress without the state money, although the state allocation plays a role in each.

But the stadium hasn't gotten off the ground yet. The latest move was for Mayor John Suthers to say he'll hire a consultant to analyze the financial viability of a stadium under private ownership.

But Miller contends the city played games with the numbers to justify the stadium project, committing tax increment financing that it's not legal.

It's a complicated issue, so we'll provide his letter here:

 
Asked about all this, the city issued this statement:
Mr. Miller’s September 28th letter to the Joint Audit Committee does not accurately characterize the financial planning set forth in the City for Champions RTA application. The sources of financing included in the preliminary financial plan matrix in the application were reasonable and appropriate for the planning stage of a project of this nature. The application never proposed or intended that the Regional Tourism Zone become an Urban Renewal Area. What was suggested was the concept of applying funds equivalent to a portion of the net new sales tax revenue generated directly by City for Champions project elements to finance a portion of the cost of the Colorado Sports and Event Center project. This new revenue would not exist without the C4C projects. If it was determined that this funding promoted the best interests of the community, this funding could be accomplished and structured in a number of alternative ways, which would be discussed and evaluated as the project was further developed. Thus, use of the term “TIF” was intended only in this general sense, and not as defined under the Urban Renewal law or other statutes.

In any event, a privately funded feasibility study will be undertaken during 2016 with respect to the Colorado Sports and Event Center. The study will evaluate and make more detailed recommendations concerning the Colorado Sports and Event Center venue including such key elements as ownership and operating entities, a business plan and a plan of finance.  

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