Wednesday, January 22, 2020

Olympic Museum pricetag soars as grand opening approaches

Posted By on Wed, Jan 22, 2020 at 8:50 AM

  • Artist rendering courtesy Diller Scofidio + Renfro
The U.S. Olympic & Paralympic Museum and Hall of Fame located in lower downtown should be announcing an opening date soon, having predicted it would open its doors in early or spring 2020.

Peter Maiurro, chief communications and business affairs officer for the museum, tells the Indy the grand opening is tentatively set for May 28 to 30, with a splashy community event slated for May 31.

In the run-up to that occasion, the museum is heralding its mention in Architectural Digest as one of the most anticipated buildings planning to open this year. The others are Central Park Tower in New York City, the Vista Tower in Chicago and the Museum of Fine Arts in Houston.

Also, before it's even open, The New York Times named it as one of the 52 places to go this year.

But here's a question. Why has the cost of the museum project escalated by 50 percent since its conception, from $60 million in 2013 to $90 million today.

That's easy to explain, Maiurro says.

"When the project was conceived, that $60 million budget, the board thought would be adequate for the guest experience," he says. "The board has been very intentional in increasing the budget to be sure the technology is cutting edge, the guest experience is second to none, that all elements — architecture, hardware and software — are all top notch."

Maiurro notes the $90 million figure does not include an endowment or an operating reserve, and that fundraising is nearly complete for the project's actual cost. "We're awfully close and will continue to do fundraising for sustainability and to enhance exhibits and technology in the future," he says.

The museum will get $26.1 million from a bond issue to be repaid with state sales tax money allotted in 2013 by the state Economic Development Commission. That's part of a total of $120.5 million allowed for the museum, a downtown stadium, a sports medicine center at the University of Colorado at Colorado Springs and a new visitor center at the Air Force Academy.
But the museum is mostly relying on donations. Among those: $10 million from the El Pomar Foundation and $1 million from the Margot Lane Foundation.

It's also worth noting that the museum's board has expanded from 10 people in 2015 to 15 today and includes several well-known local folks: Downtown Partnership President CEO Susan Edmondson; B.J. Hybl, president and chief operating officer of Griffis/Blessing Inc.; president of Nor'wood Development Group Chris Jenkins; local businessman Phil Lane, and R. Thayer Tutt, Jr., vice chairman and chief investment officer of El Pomar Foundation.

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