$40M UCCS sports medicine center part of City for Champions tourism initiative

A $40 million Sports Medicine and Performance Center is planned to begin construction in mid-2018 and open on the University of Colorado at Colorado Springs campus by the end of 2019, according to a schedule released Monday at a campus-wide forum.

The center is part of the City for Champions tourism initiative, four projects designed to attract visitors to the Pikes Peak region that are being funded, in part, by $120.5 million in sales tax money provided over 30 years under Colorado’s Regional Tourism Act.

The center will include at least 72,000 square feet of space and will be built in the Health and Wellness Village on the western edge of the UCCS campus along North Nevada Avenue that already includes the 2-year-old Lane Center for Academic Health Sciences/HealthCircle Clinics.

Charlie Sweet, UCCS vice chancellor for strategic initiatives, said the school estimates the cost of the center to be between $25 million and $29 million and will finance construction by issuing bonds that will be repaid by $16.8 million in sales tax rebates the center is to receive under the Regional Tourism Act.

The center also will require about $10 million in road, utility and other related work along North Nevada Avenue that will be funded by private donations, including money given to UCCS for its Ent Center for the Arts that began construction in August, said Susan Szpyrka, senior vice chancellor for administration and finance.

During the next year, UCCS hopes to identify partners in the project, set up a partnership structure to operate the center and develop plans for what programs will be offered in the center, Sweet said.

Under an agreement with the Colorado Economic Development Commission, the project must be completed and operating by the end of 2023 and include an orthopedic component and space for clinics providing human performance testing and training, biomechanics, medically based fitness and physical therapy and at least three national centers of excellence, he said.

UCCS also has hired six faculty members for the center, including Jackie Berning, a longtime nutrition consultant to the Denver Broncos; Jeff Broker, former senior biomechanist for the U.S. Olympic Committee; Jay Dawes, strength and fitness consultant to the Colorado State Patrol; Margie Hunt, former USOC head athletic trainer; Steve Johnson, former CEO of USA Cycling; and Andy Subudhi, a leader in high-altitude research. Jeff Spicher, associate professor in the Helen and Arthur E. Johnson Beth-El College of Nursing and Health Sciences, also is expected to be part of the center’s faculty.

The City for Champions initiative also includes a downtown U.S. Olympic Museum, which began site demolition work in December and is scheduled to break ground next month; an Air Force Academy Visitors Center, which is expected move forward soon, and a downtown sports and events center.

Mayor John Suthers said Monday a feasibility study, paid for with private contributions, should be completed this spring to determine whether the sports and event center could be funded with private money and identify entities that could own the venue.