Sports

Metropolis for Champions Tasks Are Altering the Face of Springs – Colorado Springs Enterprise Journal



The new home of the Colorado College Tigers hockey team, Robson Arena is slated to open in mid-October for the 2021-22 season.



Two of the five City for Champions venues – the US Olympic and Paralympic Museum and Hall of Fame and the William J. Hybl Sports Medicine and Performance Center – are open for business and are starting to serve their purpose of bringing visitors to the Pikes Peak area to trick into.

Weidner Field is weeks ahead of its opening date, and construction of the Edward J. Robson Arena at Colorado College is approximately 80 percent complete.

The city's final project for champions – the Air Force Academy Gateway Visitor Center – was the most difficult to initiate. However, according to lead developer Dan Schnepf, funding for the project is coming together and could be completed this summer.

"We're ready to shovel," said Schnepf. "We could start building tomorrow if we had the pension funds."

The visitor center is part of a 51 acre development that includes the $ 86 million visitor center. a 375-room full-service hotel and conference center; a 180,000 square foot office building; and a 30,000 square foot mall.

Schnepf, AFA graduate and founder of Matrix, a consulting engineering and design company, founded Blue & Silver Development Partners to drive development of the complex. The groundbreaking ceremony was scheduled for April 1, 2020 until the COVID-19 pandemic caused the bond market to collapse in March 2020.

Documents are currently being rewritten for offer bonds of $ 90 million for the visitor center and supporting infrastructure, and for hotel bonds of $ 210 million.

"The problem is that both of them have to go together," said Schnepf, "so we're a little committed to hotel bonds."

The bond market for hospitality projects has been poor, but Schnepf is seeing signs of recovery. A $ 535 million bond expense for a Georgia hotel and convention center hit the market about three weeks ago and was oversubscribed 16 times. A $ 700 million project in Brevard County, Florida is scheduled for next month.

"We're waiting to see what that looks like," said Schnepf. If all goes well, he expects to bring the AFA projects to the bond market early next quarter.

Pulling quote

"C4C has already exceeded my expectations."

– Bob Cope

The hotel will initially be owned by Provident Resources Group, a non-profit organization that, among other things, supports governments with difficult development projects that serve their citizens.

"After they have amortized this thing, they'll give it to our Air Force Academy," said Schnepf. “In the long run, it will be a great benefit for the academy and generate immense sales. … As soon as the bonds are repaid, this income will be made available to the academy. "

Provident is considering two companies to design and build the hotel – a well-known local company and a hotel-building company in Denver – and will announce their selections within the next 30 days, Schnepf said.

The hotel and its 30,000-square-foot conference center are specially tailored to meet the needs of the Air Force Academy and the northern end of Colorado Springs.

"In the long run it will be great for our community too," said Schnepf.

The hotel is operated by CoralTree Hospitality of Greenwood Village, a service provider for destination communities and lifestyle hotels. CoralTree is a wholly owned subsidiary of Lowe, a privately held real estate company.

The mall will include "one or two stand-alone restaurants and one or two stand-alone coffee shops," Schnepf said. "We are very interested and we have four gas stations that are competing for a gas station on the retail site."

The development will be known as True North Commons after leading development agency True North Commons Retail, as will the name of the urban renewal area in which it is located.

The overall financing package for the development is quite complex and was put together by Schnepf and the City of Colorado Springs.

“As originally and always planned, we are using a public finance approach that includes ad valorem taxes and TIFs. These are additional costs related to the project that would be incurred by the business improvement district, which includes the real estate, Schnepf said.

Several tax counties – including the City of Colorado Springs, School District 20, Pikes Peak Library District, Police, Fire and Water Districts – have postponed collecting their ad valorem taxes during the construction of the project and for the purpose of borrowing retirement "Said Schnepf.

About 60 percent of the taxes levied on services and room rates at the hotel, as well as property taxes, are used to repay the loans for the visitor center and infrastructure.

Therefore, "the project cannot be financed without the hotel," he said.

With the visitor center serving as the welcome center in both Colorado Springs and the academy, the city has approved $ 2 million to fund housing and rental taxes for the project and is considering an additional $ 800,000, he said.

"Of course the Air Force provides an enormous income – around 16 million US dollars in total," said Schnepf.

As a City for Champions project, the visitor center received $ 13.25 million in funding from the Regional Tourism Act.

"So there are many stakeholders involved and everyone is very excited about the future project," said Schnepf.

The visitor center, which Schnepf regards as the keystone of his career, is still on the way to completion in 2023 despite COVID-19. He expects the hotel and office building to be completed in 2024 and the entire development to be completed “some time before 2025” will be.

MUSEUM, HYBL CENTER

The two ongoing projects are attracting a lot of attention.

The Olympic & Paralympic Museum, which opened on July 30, 2020, was voted Best New Attraction of 2020 by USA TODAY's 10Best Reader & # 39; s Choice and nominated for Best New Museum of Publication in 2021 earlier this month .

"We ended 2020 with good attendance, even though it wasn't originally planned," said Peter Maiurro, chief communications and business affairs officer, ahead of the pandemic.

But 2021 is off to a good start, and the museum, which is open seven days a week, is on a positive upward trend as vaccines continue to roll out, he said.

"During the spring break, we had several days with more than 500 visitors [every day]," he said.

Maiurro expects the timed ticket to continue indefinitely, but the museum will open tours at the first available time slot.

More than two dozen special events are planned or in preparation for the next few months, and the museum is planning extensive programs around the Tokyo Olympic and Paralympic Games in July and August.

The Hybl Center, a partnership between UCCS and Centura Health, has mainly looked after local athletes and patients. However, Executive Director Steve Johnson expects more clients and patients outside of the state as COVID restrictions relax.



PS_0416 C4C | HelenRobinson14.jpg

The parking garage with 323 spaces in the Robson Arena is ready for the filling of panels.



Johnson has run tours for prospective students and their parents who loved the facility.

Hopefully by the fall, once UCCS is fully open, he expects 1,200 students a day to populate the building.

Bill Lueck, director of redevelopment at Centura Health and co-executive director of the Hybl Center, said medical clinics – especially orthopedic and physical therapy services – are extremely busy.

"We continue to see new patients and work with sports injuries of all kinds, including concussions," said Lück, "and our sporting performance areas are turning well."

Local tactical groups, including the Colorado Springs SWAT team, train at the facility. The Colorado Springs Fire Department just completed a health and wellness benefit program, he said.

A U.S. Navy Special Operations Group participated in a research project that used the center's altitude and ambient chambers to simulate the conditions under which athletes compete.

And athletes, from local high school soccer players to podium level team members training for the upcoming Olympics, are improving their skills at the performance center, Lueck said.

Various unique training programs will be offered from June, including golf fitness and swing analysis. The altitude and environmental chambers will be open to the public this summer.

STADIUM AND ARENA

Weidner Field was granted temporary residency on April 9 and will be granted permanent residency next week, said Nick Ragain, president of Colorado Springs Switchbacks Football Club.

"We're starting to bring furniture into the venue, set up the offices, and do the things that allow our team to get started right away," said Ragain.

"We have a couple of opening events later this month and then, in May, between closing and opening, we will head out to the races," he said.

The opening of the stadium and the first regular season game of the Switchbacks will take place on May 21st and will be celebrated with fireworks and “all sorts of things”.

Season tickets to Switchbacks games and tickets to multiple concerts in May are on sale, but these events are likely to still be capacity limited amid COVID restrictions.

Three of this season's games will air on major ESPN channels, putting Colorado Springs firmly on the map of professional football, Ragain said. He expects the huge sculpture on the northeast corner of the stadium, representing the world of sports, to become a recognizable symbol for the city.

Construction of the Robson Arena reached a major milestone in March when the concrete slab was poured for the ice surface that the CC Tigers will play on, said Vinnie Mattivi, senior project manager at Nunn Construction.

"We're in the final stages now," he said. The seats will be installed from the end of this month.

The multi-storey car park with 323 parking spaces on the south side of the arena is fully built and ready for paving slabs. The arena is slated to open for mid-2021-22 season in mid-October, Mattivi said.

The City for Champions projects are meant to be an economic catalyst, said Bob Cope, manager of economic development for Colorado Springs.

"C4C has already exceeded my expectations," said Cope. “Before the projects were built and opened, we saw an increase in interest and real investment in and around them. Now look at the cranes in the air.

"Other projects, mainly downtown, are a direct result of the museum and the other C4C projects," he said. "It will stay that way for years to come."

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