Third-party analyst chomps at 'Champs' 

Colorado Springs Mayor Steve Bach says he still supports City for Champions as a "breakthrough opportunity." And the Convention and Visitors Bureau's Doug Price says project supporters "remain fully committed to gaining the state's approval."

But that now looks like a tall order, considering that a state-hired, third-party analyst says the Springs' City for Champions application should qualify for only $34.1 million in state sales tax rebates through the Regional Tourism Act, not the $82.1 million the city wants. That's because Economic & Planning Systems, Inc., says the proposal would attract 59 percent fewer "net new out-of-state visitors" than the city predicted — 214,243, compared to the city's estimate of 521,493. (The RTA's purpose is to draw tourists from other states.)

A big reason for the reduction: EPS was compelled to strike the University of Colorado at Colorado Springs sports medicine center from its calculations altogether.

"Without a more defined project, program, and business plan, it is impossible to forecast the visitors or economic impact associated with this Project component," analysts wrote. They also reduced the city's out-of-state tourist estimates for two of the remaining three projects, an Air Force Academy Visitors Center and an Olympic Museum.

Analysts said the RTA is meant to support projects that are ready to go but need a final funding boost. "As noted throughout this report," EPS said, "there are major deficiencies in the information provided in the Application to address these criteria."

The report also said:

• The museum has the "best potential" to draw visitors, but a site hasn't been secured and the plan doesn't include "any specific funding commitments." The downtown baseball stadium also lacks a financing plan, and a secured site.

• There's "no evidence" that any city entity "has available and committed the $42.5 million in public funding" noted in the application's funding plan. In addition, the Colorado Springs Sky Sox's involvement is "unclear."

• The AFA visitors center project's cost and timing "are speculative," with no funding commitments. Also, analysts say, "There were no design plans submitted and it is unclear whether any exist."

• The city assumes state funding will provide 30 to 45 percent of each project's needs; that's "above an appropriate level."

The city's deadline for revisions is Friday. The state Economic Development Commission will vote on funding in December.


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