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Switchbacks Make Proposal for Downtown Stadium

By NICHOLAS MURRAY -, 12/17/17, 9:27AM EST


New 8,000-seat venue would be located at Antlers Park as part of larger complex

Photo courtesy Isaiah J. Downing / Colorado Springs Switchbacks FC

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. – Colorado Springs Switchbacks FC owner Nick Ragain and high-profile local attorney Perry Sanders Jr. will present a proposal in early January that could help secure a new 8,000-seat stadium for the Switchbacks in Antlers Park as part of sports and entertainment complex in the area.

Ragain and Sanders had previously presented the plan to the city earlier this year, and on January 8 plan to present the proposal, which would also include a 2,000-seat indoor venue, to the City Council at its workshop session.

The proposal would seek to use funding for the project from Colorado's Regional Tourism Act, which in 2013 saw the Colorado Economic Development Commission award Colorado Springs up to $120.5 million that was originally planned to create the City of Champions Complex in the city. With a one-year deadline approaching that would see any unused money from the award returned to the state, and progress on the City of Champions having slowed, Ragain believes the proposal would allow the city to add a valuable community asset, and avoid returning the available funds.

“We believe the opportunity to utilize approximately $30 million allocated from a state grant that would not only improve our local region and Antlers Park, and to be able to do so without asking for local tax-payers’ dollars would be a win all around for Colorado Springs,” said Ragain. “Our proposal would allow Antlers Park to remain under city control, and bring a tremendous stage for sporting events within our community year-round through its indoor and outdoor venues.”

Photo courtesy Isaiah J. Downing / Colorado Springs Switchbacks FC

The Switchbacks currently play at the 5,000-seat Weidner Field, which has been the club’s home since it joined the league prior to the 2015 season, with the club having seen rises in attendance that mirror the overall rise in average attendance league-wide. The USL saw its overall regular-season attendance surpass two million fans in 2017, the first time that mark had been reached by any North American Division II league.

Those attendance rises have been aided by the arrival of new soccer-specific stadiums, with Rio Grande Valley FC more than doubling its inaugural season attendance this past year after the opening of H-E-B Park in Edinburg, Texas. The Toros averaged 7,067 fans per game this season, placing the club in the top five for average attendance in the USL.

An increase in capacity and improved location would be a significant boost to the Switchbacks, and would also situate the club nearby to one of the other projects that has already benefited from the state funding that Ragain and Sanders hope to utilize, with the city’s Olympic Museum located close to Antlers Park.

“This is the best thing that could happen for the city,” Sanders told the Colorado Springs Gazette’s Rich Laden. “Take a park that is currently nonfunctional and turn it into a family facility.”

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