Get ready to load up the kids in the minivan and head to Colorado Springs. Nothing spells fun on a family vacation like a tour of their yet-to-be-built sports medicine facility tied to their City for Champions tourism initiative!
That’s right folks, and there’s so much more, including a new Air Force Academy visitor center, an Olympic Museum, and a stadium which will have something cool to offer—we just don’t know what yet.
Forget about the acclaimed Air Force Academy Chapel when you can get a picture of it on a postcard at the new “Gateway Visitor Center.” The current center is a short, scenic walk from the Chapel, but the new facility’s proposed location is a thirteen minute drive. The City for Champions Web site states “After September 11, 2001, Academy visitors decreased dramatically, from 700,000 annually to a mere 200,000, as necessary security for the campus became a priority over visitor access.” However, necessary security for the campus still takes priority over visitor access. But the new visitor center will be the place to go.
Next stop…the Olympic Museum, slated to be built a short drive away from the actual Olympic Training Center itself. Again, why experience firsthand what you can buy on a post card at a related facility down the road. And this museum, well it will be better than the National Baseball Hall of Fame—because if you build it, they will come.
But, we’re not done yet. You can top off the trip with a visit to a new downtown stadium with no major or minor league sports team attached to it. But whatever the stadium hosts, it will be worth it—even better than Disney World. Mickey Mouse, eat your heart out!
Joel Miller—the Trouble Maker
Unfortunately, every rose has its thorn—just like the song says. With City for Champions, City Councilman Joel Miller is the thorn in this rose of a project. He keeps bringing up pesky little details like profitability, overall taxpayer costs, and potential eminent domain issues.
The Olympic Museum is a “Field of Dreams” in the City for Champions proposal, but Miller does not agree with the notion that “if you build it, they will come.” He compares the National Baseball Hall of Fame to the proposed museum in the City for Champions’ application to the state of Colorado. (This application to the Colorado Economic Development Commission was for taxpayer funding available through the Regional Tourism Act—though the state technically calls it a tax rebate). According to Miller, the application projects that the Olympic Museum will reach nearly 13 million in revenue by its 11th year, while the National Baseball Hall of Fame in its 74th year in 2010 declared 8.6 million in revenue. He says that the application gives a flawed estimate that more people will visit the new Olympic Museum than the well established Baseball Hall of Fame. Dream crusher.
As for the stadium—this stadium will be so AMAZING that Summit Economics, the consulting firm hired to do a cost analysis study, predicted that people will spend two to three times as much on food and merchandise at this stadium and whatever ends up there as opposed to a day at Disney World. But no, Joel Miller doesn’t think so. Miller states on his Web site, “If my family of six was to visit Colorado Springs from out of state, this study is estimating that we would spend $405.00 for the pleasure of a Sky Sox game—plus more for lodging, tickets and parking. “ (The Sky Sox are the Minor League farm team for the Colorado Rockies. It was initially envisioned that this stadium would be their new home.) Councilman Stick-in-the-Mud Miller says that places like Disney World project that visitors will only spend $20.00-$30.00 per person on Food and Merchandise per day, while the estimate provided by Summit Economics for the City for Champions stadium is $67.50 Clearly, Miller shows his lack of vision by opposing a stadium that will house something which could eventually compete with Disney World. Nevermind that it will require additional taxpayer funds to build and no one knows who will own the venue. Silly details.
Oh Yeah, That Eminent Domain Thing
Now Councilman Miller is striking fear in the hearts of citizens, inferring that eminent domain could be used for projects related to City for Champions. With a proposed ordinance that places more rigorous restrictions on the use of eminent domain, he contends that property owners need better protections.
When will Miller learn? Government exists for our benefit. Our elected officials always act with our best interests in mind. They know better than us mere citizens and won’t allow special interest groups to cloud their judgment. We don’t need additional laws to protect us.
Even the Housing and Building Association (HBA) of Colorado Springs is against the proposed ordinance that would strengthen property rights—because their members would never kick someone out of their home or separate them from their property for a development project. In an email obtained by an opponent of the City for Champions, the HBA calls the eminent domain ordinance “extreme in content.” The HBA states: “This ordinance is not needed and there is no record of abuse in our City and this has become a political issue in response to an actual community threat. In fact this ordinance would actually hinder the types of redevelopment projects our City needs.”
Business developers respect private property rights. While developers wouldn’t want to use eminent domain, it’s still nice to have that leverage. The current law, which does provide protections, gives just enough leverage to acquire property through coercion in the form of veiled threats and intimidation tactics. This can be seen in the wording of this letter which encourages the property owner to accept a quick cash sale:
The HBA of Colorado Springs urges attendance of the May 13th City Council Meeting. If eminent domain is an important issue for you—whether you live in Colorado Springs or not—please contact Council members Keith King, Andy Pico, and Don Knight. Let them know how you feel.
City Council President Keith King
City Council Member Andy Pico
City Council Member Don Knight