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Does the proposed CFC event center look like a duck? City councilors ask for legal opinion

Published: February 6, 2014, 7:56 pm, by Monica Mendoza

Colorado Springs City Council asked the City Attorney to research whether the proposed City for Champions downtown event center could be considered a convention center.

If the proposed 10,000 seat downtown event center, which includes a 3,000-seat indoor facility, a 1,500-space parking garage and pedestrian bridge, does meet the convention center description, then Colorado Springs residents, by law, would have a vote on it.

In 2005, Colorado Springs voters overwhelmingly approved a ballot measure restricting the city’s ability to pay for and build a convention center. Voters added the convention center issue to the city’s charter. It says: “Colorado Springs shall be prohibited from planning, building, funding or financing a convention center with or without a hotel or another ancillary structure, unless a majority of voters gives prior approval to complete the project at a regular or special municipal election.”

“This is awfully close to a convention center,” council member Don Knight said about the proposed City for Champions event center.

Interim City Attorney Wynetta Massey said she would research the issue.

The City for Champions event center is “designed with maximum facility flexibility to accommodate a variety of programming needs for 200 to 250 events each year including concerts, traveling sports tournaments, holiday events, fairs and car shows,” according to the application the city filed with the state.

The event center is estimated to cost $92.6 million to construct. Under the preliminary financial plan, the event center would be funded using money from a state Tax Increment Finance district, which collects a certain amount of state sales tax that can be used to pay off bond debt and a local city and county TIF which would do the same.

In 2005, backers of a proposed downtown convention center said the passage of the convention center ballot measure that changed the city’ charter could be viewed as a signal of voter opposition to a convention center tax increase at a future election. A proposed convention center had been discussed for more than five years and drew criticism from The Broadmoor hotel and other lodging industry members who questioned its viability.

Back then, the proposed convention center was planned for the same area as the City for Champions event center, roughly in a 100-acre downtown area, mostly southwest of Colorado and Cascade avenues.  It was designated by the City Council in 2001 as an urban renewal — or redevelopment — site.

Some council members, including Joel Miller, Helen Collins and Andy Pico, said the event center should go to a vote of the people no matter what. The event center is the only one of the four City for Champions projects that proponents have said could be 100 percent publicly funded.