The Colorado Springs City Council is having a work session on Jan. 5 to hear presentations about the final cost projections and funding options for a downtown convention center.
This is the perfect forum for our elected officials to show their wisdom and courage by throwing their whole-hearted support behind building a convention center. Never will they have a better opportunity to show the electorate that they care more about the long-term future of our city and less about near-term political gains or losses.
Given the success of the RTA ballot initiative in November, those elected to oversee our city should be well aware of how important their support for a forward-thinking, yet controversial, issue is.
The time has come to make a bold statement and embrace a bold vision to ensure that Colorado Springs continues to grow and prosper, and doesn’t sink among the ranks of small cities that squandered their opportunity for potential success.
We don’t need any more studies. We don’t need any more fence straddling. The members of the council need to make a decision. Will they be willing to accept the risk of building a convention center because of the potential reward that the community could reap for decades to come, or will they cave to the pressure applied by a select few in the lodging industry who are only thinking about themselves?
There is no guarantee that a downtown convention center will be successful. But there is a 100 percent guarantee that if we choose to do nothing, Colorado Springs will remain among the second tier of cities when it comes to attracting large groups and the economic stimulus they bring.
And as we as a city bask in our second tier glory, don’t be surprised if one day we all wake up and wonder what happened to some of what we thought were Colorado Springs institutions, such as the United States Olympic Committee. It would be foolhardy to think that a major player, a city with vision, won’t make the organization a sweetheart of a deal to relocate. And it would be even more foolhardy to think that the leaders of the USOC would feel any commitment to Colorado Springs unless we show in a big way that we are committed to them.
Let’s be honest, renaming a park on the south side of downtown probably isn’t enough to tip the scale in our favor if New York or Chicago or Atlanta or anyone else for that matter decides they want the prestige associated with being the home of the U.S. Olympic rings.
Pro or con, for or against, the time has come to make a decision. And while this is one of those decisions that isn’t easy, and likely won’t receive unequivocal support in all sectors, making tough decisions is what political leaders are elected to do.
While the decision might be difficult, the choice is fairly simple – the potential for future growth or maintaining the status quo.
Here’s to hoping that the members of the council prove to be visionaries.