No doubt about it, a quarter of a million dollars is a lot of dough.
But critics of the $250,000 grant from the U.S. Olympic Committee and several national governing bodies to fund various youth sports and recreation programs say it’s a drop in the bucket compared to the city’s $42.3 million incentives package.
What would Mayor Lionel Rivera tell those naysayers?
“I believe this is a renewal of a partnership, a much stronger partnership than we’ve had in the past,” Rivera said when asked the question after yesterday’s news conference.
“And you heard CEO Scott Blackmun say that he’s going to do everything he can to help promote economic development and bring more businesses here to Colorado Springs and be part of the community in doing that. We’ve never had a CEO that did that before,” the mayor said.
“Scott was part of the 6035 task force that looked at, ‘What do we need to bring more businesses to Colorado Springs?’ I think he’s going to use his position as CEO of the USOC to help us do that, to help bring more businesses here, and using the Olympic brand to do that, I think, is going to be a huge positive,” he said.
“The other thing you have to look at is what we gain from the USOC in terms of jobs and all the national governing bodies, all the sports-related tourism. The numbers we looked at show us that that generates about $3.4 million a year in sales tax and property tax revenue. This is an investment in our future. We know that Chicago, San Diego, other communities were trying to take the USOC headquarters from Colorado Springs. A loss of that could potentially mean the loss of several thousand jobs, over $3 million in revenues.”
The mayor noted that it cost the city $1.65 million this year for the certificates of participation, which the city issued to pay for the USOC’s new headquarters at 27 S. Tejon St. and other expenses.
The city will have to continue to pay off the COPs into the future.
“I think it’s a good investment,” Rivera said. “You invest $1.65 million. You get back $3.4 million in tax revenue. That’s just looking at the numbers. But in terms of the (Olympic) brand and what it means to our community, that’s invaluable, and that’s something that I think we’re going to leverage to bring more businesses here to our community. And I think (the USOC and national governing bodies are) going to be a much, much bigger player than they have been in the past.”