City For Champions - CSPM

City For Champions

For the Ragains, the Colorado Springs Switchbacks Football Club is a labor of love – and a family affair. Ed Ragain, the former owner of a Colorado-based international engineering firm purchased the professional soccer team franchise and brought it to Colorado Springs. The family has invested millions of dollars into the community, betting that a brand-new multi-purpose stadium in southwest downtown will be a “turning point” for Colorado Springs, their new hometown. With additional investments from Dean Weidner of Weidner Apartment Homes, and incentives from the state, the multi-million-dollar City for Champions project is becoming a reality.

– From the CSPM Curator of History

The City for Champions is an ambitious project intended to expand business and tourism in the region. Four significant attractions are being built to boost the regions $1.35 billion annual tourism industry and focus on the city’s unique relationship hosting the United States Olympic Committee. The project consists of four buildings, the United States Olympic & Paralympic Museum, the Colorado Sports and Event Center, the Gateway Visitor Center and the UCCS William J. Hybl Sports Medicine and Performance Center. The City for Champions project builds upon Colorado Springs’ history as a health destination and as a sports and fitness hub for Olympic athletes. Once completed, the projects are expected to create over 5,100 new jobs and attract 1.2 million visitors each year. The project is expected to revitalize the downtown community creating new retail opportunities, restaurants, companies and residential development in Southern Colorado.

Colorado Springs has a long history with the US Olympic Committee dating back to 1977 when the city was selected as the Olympic training ground. A former air force base on Knob hill near downtown Colorado Springs was selected as a construction site due to its high elevation which was thought to improve training effectiveness and in 1978 the US Olympic Training Center was completed. In 1984 the project was expanded to include a multi-sport center with six gyms, seating for almost 3,000, and a cycling Velodrome in nearby Memorial Park. Today, athletes preparing for the Olympics, Paralympics, and Pan American Games live at the training center for a period of months or years, while others visit periodically with their respective national teams for training camps or physical testing.

In addition to a US Olympic and Paralympic museum, one of the main features of the City of Champions project is the events center consisting of two stadiums that will be host to both regional and national sporting events associated with the Olympic movement. The sites will also serve as the home stadium of the Switchbacks, Colorado Springs’ own pro-soccer team. The complex will include a visitor center celebrating the contribution of air force cadets and veterans and the UCCS William J. Hybl Sports Medicine and Performance Center which will act as a destination clinic for training and healing elite athletes.

The City of Champions project is funded through the Colorado Regional Tourism Act which provides financing for entertainment facilities that will attract significant investment and revenue from outside the state. Once completed, the City for Champions will solidify Colorado Springs as “Olympic City USA” attracting both national and international sports entities to the city to compete in events and do business.

Generously Submitted by Alex Archuleta, Historian

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