COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. – The City of Colorado Springs announced on Wednesday plans to move forward with the fourth City for Champions project; the Colorado Sports and Event Center. Comprised of two separate facilities, these will be state of the art, multi-purpose venues designed to host professional, Olympic and amateur sporting events as well as entertainment and cultural events. The outdoor downtown stadium will become the permanent home of the United Soccer League’s Colorado Springs Switchbacks FC while the event center will serve as the new home of the Colorado College ice hockey team.
Partnering and providing private financial funding in the venture are Colorado College, Colorado Springs Switchbacks FC and Weidner Apartment Homes. The next step in the project will be a presentation of the business plan and finding of commencement of substantial work toward the project by the Colorado Economic Development Commission at its meeting in September.
“It gives me great pride to announce that the City of Colorado Springs is ready to effectively leverage $27.7M in State City for Champions funding to build a downtown sports stadium and events center,” said Colorado Springs Mayor John Suthers. “Today’s announcement is the culmination of a lot of hard work and incredible collaboration between a number of private partners. While this project represents a significant benefit to our city’s economy and cultural and sports offerings, we have remained committed to the desire of our voters to accomplish this feat through private partnerships and investments and not with local general fund tax money. To that end, I’m incredibly pleased to announce that we have an excellent proposal and a plan to move forward on these facilities.”
The proposed downtown stadium – which would become the new permanent home for the Switchbacks – will be located at the CityGate property bordered by Cimarron to the North, Moreno to the South, Sierra Madre to the West and Sahwatch to the east. The facility will be a mixed-use development of which the centerpiece will be a stadium that will hold a 10,000-seat capacity for sporting events and also have the ability to accommodate a wide variety of sporting and entertainment events. Capacity for concert events will be 20,000.
“I am very excited to see the City of Colorado Springs get behind professional soccer like numerous other leading cities around the country,” said Switchbacks Head Coach Steve Trittschuh. “The downtown stadium will help us compete at a higher level and represent the City well.”
“Two key elements were considered in awarding the Ragains a USL franchise back in 2013, namely Ed Ragain's experience with sporting venues and the strong community support from Colorado Springs” said USL Chief Executive Officer Alec Papadakis. “The City for Champions downtown stadium project brings those two key elements together for the benefit of the community, the Switchbacks' loyal fans, and the future long-term sustainability of the USL franchise in Colorado Springs.”
“In 2013, when I was looking to start a professional Soccer franchise somewhere in Colorado, Colorado Springs stuck out as a City that had a passion for sports and a vision for growth,” said Ed Ragain, owner of Colorado Springs Switchbacks FC. “It is amazing to be standing before you today announcing our plans to complete a long desired downtown sports stadium in this great City. In my professional career, I had the opportunity to be a part of designing and building some of the largest and most successful sports stadiums on the planet. It has been inspiring to witness the way that many of these facilities have changed the trajectory of neighborhoods and cities through lifestyle enhancement. While our stadium project is smaller in scale, we are committed to design features that bring forward a great sports environment.”
Colorado Springs Switchbacks FC has seen consistent gains in attendance since arriving in the USL at the start of the 2015 season. | Photo courtesy Isaiah J. Downing / Colorado Springs Switchbacks FC
The Switchbacks have seen consistent rises in attendance since kicking off in the USL in the 2015 season. This summer the club has welcomed its highest attendance in club history to Weidner Field – a sellout crowd of 5,000 fans on June 23 against Fresno FC – and has seen its average attendance maintain a year-on-year rise. The move to the new venue would allow the club to continue its strong growth in the stands and commercially.
The stadium will be constructed together with a mixed-use residential and commercial development in partnership with Weidner Apartment Homes. Weidner will receive naming rights to the stadium and a minority position in the Switchbacks franchise. The combined project is estimated at $60 million dollars.
“On behalf of Dean Weidner and the 1,400 team members of Weidner Apartment Homes, I’d like to express our tremendous excitement at being a part of this downtown revitalization effort,” said Greg Cerbana, V.P. Public Relations and Government Affairs for Weidner Apartment Homes. “Weidner has been a part of the business community here in the Springs since 1993, but our roots in the community are much deeper as Dean Weidner himself grew up here. Our desire to elevate our level of support from that of a sponsor to now being a partner is based on the vision we’ve jointly developed regarding the new downtown stadium and it’s potential to help spur a sports and entertainment district in downtown Colorado Springs.”
The City for Champions project envisions this venue coordinating with the Sports Center being built at Colorado College 1.5 miles away and the US Olympic Museum two blocks away to be a catalyst in bringing more sports tourism to the State to visit the Olympic Museum, Olympic Training Center, and the many other amenities available here in beautiful Colorado Springs.