Colorado Springs retains grasp on USOC

The $53 million incentive package also lets the city use the famous Olympic symbol.

By Erin Emery

The Denver Post

Article Last Updated: 04/01/2008 01:31:38 AM MDT

COLORADO SPRINGS — — A $53 million incentive package will keep the U.S. Olympic Committee in Colorado Springs for at least 25 more years and, officials hope, launch an effort to reshape the city’s image and invigorate downtown.

An agreement reached Monday allows Colorado Springs to use the USA Olympic logo in city marketing materials — including the Olympic rings — considered one of the five most-recognizable symbols in the world.

In recent months, at least 10 other cities, including Chicago, had tried to lure away the USOC, which has been in Colorado Springs since 1977. The USOC and national governing bodies account for 4,000 jobs in Colorado Springs and boost the local economy by $341 million annually.

The plan was approved in a 7-1 vote of the Colorado Springs City Council.

“This is a home run for this community,” said Peter Ueberroth, chairman of the board of the USOC. “For this community, moving the United States Olympic Committee headquarters downtown is . . . almost like a redevelopment project. It’s already a great downtown, but it’s going to be so much greater.”

Ueberroth would not discuss why the USOC decided to stay in Colorado Springs or name the cities that were in contention.

The plan calls for the USOC to move its headquarters building to 27 S. Tejon St. Ray Marshall, chairman of the board of LandCo Equity Partners LLC, the developer, said it will create a new landmark downtown that will serve as a




magnet for visitors.

The developer, which owns five buildings downtown, is banking on the USOC’s cache and logo to spark redevelopment and new retail shops, more restaurants and new employers.

Construction is scheduled for completion by the summer of 2009.

The plan calls for an empty building west of downtown to be renovated into offices for several national governing bodies that manage U.S. participation in Olympic events. The city plans to build an Olympic Promenade to connect the two facilities — a pedestrian-friendly pathway that will create an east-west thoroughfare through the city.

“The rings are going to make it the crown jewel of downtown Colorado Springs; downtown needs a catalyst to take it to the next level. This is going to be it,” said Marshall.

The city is arranging for $27 million in low-interest financing for the project; LandCo Equity Partners LLC is contributing $23.5 million; El Pomar Foundation is contributing $2 million; and the state office of Economic Development and International Trade is contributing $500,000.

The city will lease the headquarters building to the USOC for $1 a year. The USOC will pay for utilities and insurance on the building.

Daphne Greenwood, an economics professor at the University of Colorado at Colorado Springs, said she would like to see an analysis of how the city determined that a $53 million incentive package was in order.

“I just don’t know that it’s worth that much; I doubt it,” said Greenwood, who runs the center for Colorado Policy Studies at the university. “I’d like to see some running numbers. Anytime people tell you, ‘It’s obviously worth it,’ you’ve got to hold onto your wallet.”

Asked the value of the ability to market the city with the Olympic rings, Fred Crowley, another economics professor at UCCS, said, “That is probably one of those unidentifiable intangibles.”

“That is a goodwill value that probably cannot be defined,” Crowley said. “I really think that it will take us several years before it becomes a brand. But once that happens, it will be phenomenal.”

Erin Emery: 719-522-1360 or