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Results of Sky Sox community survey still locked away

Published: January 15, 2014, 6:52 pm, by Monica Mendoza

Moving Sky Sox baseball stadium downtown no longer is part of the City for Champions plan but all information gathered to support that project is locked away.

Colorado Spring’s city attorney will not release the results of a community survey taken by the city last summer to gauge public interest in a downtown baseball stadium even though plans to move Sky Sox stadium downtown were dumped in December.

In October, City Attorney Chris Melcher said the results of the survey were being kept secret and considered to be a “work product.” He denied the Gazette’s request, filed under the Colorado Open Records Act, to release the 50-question survey results and said the answers from the 2,000 community members who responded could be used to negotiate a future deal with Sky Sox team and stadium owner Dave Elmore.

But in December, just as the state was about to review the city’s application for four tourism projects dubbed the City for Champions, the architectural rendering of the baseball stadium morphed into a drawing and description of a sports arena.

In the city’s responses to a series of questions from the state’s Economic Development Commission, the city said: “The subsequent analysis herein does not include the Sky Sox as an anchor tenant.”

The Gazette filed a second request under CORA saying the survey results no longer were a work product because there were no plans to move the baseball stadium downtown. Council member Joel Miller also asked that the survey results be released to the public.

The council received the survey results verbally in October in a closed-door meeting and were warned against releasing them, Miller said. This is what Miller posed on his Facebook page:

“During the presentation on the stadium survey that City Council received in closed-to-the-public executive session back in October, members of Council asked for some/all of the results to be released to the public.

“City Attorney Chris Melcher, after a month of non-response later informed Council that there would be no release to the public in the near term. Below is a statement wordsmithed by Mr. Melcher that I’m allowed to publish to constituents: ‘ “The executive branch holds the privilege on these materials, and has decided it would not be in the City’s best interests to release confidential and proprietary information at this time. The information may be released at a future date. Please contact the Mayor’s office if you would like him to release it at this time.’ “

Miller also posted the $35,000 invoice from Conventions Sports Leisure to the city, the company that conducted the survey.

In December, the state’s Economic Development Commission awarded an estimated $120.5 million over the next 30 years to help finance City for Champions. To get the state tax increment financing – a percentage of the net new sales tax generated in a specified zone over the next 30 years – the city must break ground on four projects within five years and complete them within 10 years. An Olympic museum in southwest downtown anchors the projects with an adjacent sports arena. The other two projects are a sports medicine clinic at UCCS and an Air Force Academy visitors’ center near Falcon Stadium.