UCCS in Colorado Springs venture to become City for Champions

Sept. 9, 2013

Nick Beadleston
nbeadles@uccs.edu

In the wake of floods and fires, the city of Colorado Springs is preparing to raise an economic phoenix. The project, dubbed City for Champions, is aimed at resurrecting tourism.

The plan revolves around four new attractions designed to increase commerce in the Springs.These include a UCCS Sports Medicine and Performance Center, a United States Air Force Academy Gateway at Falcon Stadium Visitors Center, a U.S. Olympic Museum and a Downtown Stadium and Event Center.

According to the plan produced by the mayor’s office, the developments are expected to bring in $312 million in sales tax revenue over the next 30 years.

Additionally, the plan projects more than 310 construction jobs and “750 permanent new direct jobs” will be created by the project.

City for Champions is also designed to improve interstate commerce. The city calculates almost 450,000 out-of-state visitors will be drawn to the new attractions annually.

“City for Champions builds upon Colorado Springs’ unique history as a health destination, a training ground for men and women in the armed services, and a sports and fitness hub,” wrote Mayor Steve Bach in a letter to the Colorado Economic Development Commission.

“By advancing a collection of new attractions unique in Colorado-and in some cases, the country-that will work together to bring new tourism to Colorado and the Colorado Springs area,” he continued.

“The origins came from a group of stellar institutions and individuals,” said Bob Cope, the senior business climate specialist with the city’s Economic Vitality Office.

He explained components of the plan had been discussed for some time, but a lack of funding prevented progress.

This changed, however, with the introduction of the Regional Tourism Act, time-sensitive state legislation.

“It seemed to be the perfect match and the catalyst for getting the City for Champions, and the four project components actually completed and built,” Cope said.

The UCCS component will, according to the mayoral report, be designed as a “destination clinic for training and healing elite athletes and wounded warriors.”

The cost of the Sports Medicine and Performance Center will be approximately $27 million. This will include construction, furniture, fixtures, equipment and parking.

Additionally, the aforementioned figure includes a development contingency of $2.7 million.

Tentatively slated to open in 2016, the project will take approximately 23 months.

“We really believe that UCCS is going to be major economic driver for this city in the coming years,” said Cope. “It’s the growth campus for the CU system.”

Cope also cited the lease of the Memorial Health System to the University of Colorado Health as another driver behind deciding on UCCS as the location for the new sports medicine facility.

Vice Chancellor and Chief Operating Officer Martin Wood could not be reached for comment about the role UCCS has played in the city-wide project.

Brian Hardy, the director of sports medicine at UCCS, is optimistic about the possibilities the new facility will bring.

“We have a lot of those entities on campus; it’s just about pulling them all together,” Hardy said.

Hardy explained the benefits of being able to treat injured athletes in-house rather than transporting them to local medical providers.

He went on to advocate the possible benefits for UCCS athletes in terms of preemptive training and conditioning.

Hardy also indicated there are plans for new degree programs and training in the works. While still in the contemplative stages, these plans would involve a joint effort between several colleges and university departments.

“This is going to be able to open up different avenues not only for student athletes but also for young sports medicine professionals.”

Jacqueline Berning, a biology professor and UCCS sports performance staff, cited this future consolidation of resources as one of the driving factors behind creating a joint exercise science undergraduate degree program between the biology and health sciences departments.

Berning also indicated that a degree in biomedical science is currently being formulated.

“If you compare athletics at UCCS to our peers … adding something like this onto our campus takes us to a completely different level; it puts us in an elite class,” Hardy said.