Joining the winning team 

Ranger Rich

In matters of civic interest I try to be objective and fair, listening to supporters and detractors, weighing their words with great care and then leaping onto the bandwagon of the winning side so I look smart, while at the same time mocking and making fun of the other people.

I should have been a congressman.

So today, fresh from the state's approval of a massive economic plan for our town, we check in on the issue that asked this big question:

Will tourists flock here to see the smelly socks Jesse Owens waved at Adolf Hitler at the 1936 Berlin Olympics while shouting, in Portuguese, Todos fuuta escudora simularos ("Hitler smells very similar to my foot")?

I'm talking, of course, of City for Champions and its cornerstone Olympic museum, where people might one day see not only Owens' socks, but also photos of 1976 decathlon champ Bruce Jenner before he had plastic surgery, fulfilling his lifelong dream to look like Meryl Streep.

For six months leading to Monday's gigantic decision from Colorado's Economic Development Commission, I listened. And I heard one voice above all the others, a voice that rang loud and clear. Turns out it was my wife yelling at me to stop washing the cat's feet in the toilet.

But there were other voices, too, voices of wise and reasonable people right here in our village. People such as longtime real estate guru Buck Blessing, who, in a letter to the EDC, wrote:

"City for Champions is integral to further promote the city of Colorado Springs, in addition to El Paso County, its businesses, its beauty, its citizens and its ability to thrive with the ever-increasing challenges of today's society as well as to project a broader appeal nationally and internationally."

Buck Blessing is a bright guy, not to mention a really cool name. I'm on his side.

Even more important, perhaps, was the all-out support from El Pomar Foundation boss Bill Hybl and former Colorado College president and Ohio Gov. Richard Celeste. And there was approval from the towns of Monument, Manitou Springs, Fountain and others.

By way of comparison, here's an anti-City for Champions rant from convicted tax cheat, photographer-kicker and all-around wonderful human being Douglas Bruce, who wrote to the EDC:

"I have yet to meet one citizen who supports this boondoggle, but then I don't hang around with developers and other parasites at the El Paso Club. If this scam is imposed on us we will not be known as the City of Champions but as the City of Chumps."

News flash: Being in prison apparently doesn't make you any nicer.

The plan would include a new downtown stadium that would allow for competitions in Olympic sports, and maybe a local soccer team. Critics said that would ruin our downtown area that already boasts an amazing entertainment scene: watching 30,000 soldiers fall out of bars at 2 a.m. and vomit.

And this being Colorado Springs (official city motto: "Jesus Loves You. But He's Still A Little Iffy About Doug Bruce"), at least one critic pointed out that the Almighty doesn't want us to be a City for Champions. From an actual letter to the state economic commission:

"Personally, I'm praying that God will help us. But in case he's busy, I hope that you will. Please stop this madness.

"Signed, A concerned citizen of Colorado Springs who cannot place her name on this paper because she'll be relieved of her duties if word gets out that she sent this letter."

In summary, I support the plan to transform our village from a 1980s enclave of lousy jobs, Jesus nuts and gun loonies into something different. Frankly, anything different.

For I see now a day when we stride into our new Olympic museum and see, right there in front of us, Jesse Owens' socks. And Bruce Jenner's purse.

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

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