News Column

Colorado Springs Olympic Museum backers say they're close to deal with USOC

June 18, 2014

By Rich Laden, The Gazette (Colorado Springs, Colo.)



June 18--Proponents of a downtown Olympic Museum are near an agreement with the Colorado Springs-based U.S. Olympic Committee that would give the museum Olympic support -- opening the door for venue backers to raise funds on the strength of that relationship, Richard Celeste, president of the museum's board of directors, said Tuesday.

During a public meeting to update the City for Champions tourism initiative, Celeste told about 30 attendees that the USOC board met last week and he hopes an announcement about the agreement could come next week. However, as he left the meeting, Celeste said that timetable isn't guaranteed.

"I think we're close," he said.

The agreement is crucial for development of the museum, which has been proposed by a non-profit group and is one of four City for Champions projects. With an agreement in hand, museum supporters plan to submit formal proposals to charitable foundations in a quest for funding to help pay for the venue.

Some of the foundations and individuals have been informally approached, but they want to see the USOC agreement because it would enhance the project's credibility. Museum supporters have said the agreement could allow use of the USOC logo and spell out the types and quality of Olympic and Paralympic exhibits and artifacts that would be displayed.

If museum supporters can announce an agreement with the USOC by the end of June, they'd hope to pursue donations with several groups by September and October, and funding announcements could come around that time, Celeste said.

Backers have estimated the museum's cost at $59.4 million, with $28 million -- or nearly half -- expected to come from private sources.

As envisioned by museum and City for Champions advocates, the venue would be built in southwest downtown, not far from the USOC's headquarters at Tejon Street and Colorado Avenue. The museum would include a hall of fame, a theater, a 20,000-square-foot exhibit hall, retail space and an outdoor plaza. Supporters have targeted a 2017 opening.

Celeste also said Tuesday that museum supporters have identified companies to design, create and build the venue, although no deals will be signed until negotiations take place. That team will consist of a design architect; a separate Colorado-based architect to implement the building's design; a general contractor; an exhibit designer; and an exhibit fabricator.

City for Champions also includes a downtown sports and events center; a new Air Force Academy visitors center; and a University of Colorado at Colorado Springs sports medicine and performance center.

In December, the Colorado Economic Development Commission approved the use of $120.5 million in sales tax funds over 30 years to help pay for the $250 million total cost of the four projects. Supporters now are waiting for the commission to sign off on a resolution, or contract, that outlines details of the City for Champions projects.

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Source: Gazette (Colorado Springs, CO)