uccsOf all the City for Champions proposals in the application for state Regional Tourism Act funding, the UCCS proposal is the only one that will happen with or without state support.

The UCCS Sports Medicine and Performance Center is scheduled to be part of the university’s Health, Arts and Wellness Village — and is part of its long-term master plan, said Martin Wood, vice president of university advancement and COO at the local University of Colorado campus.

“We’re going to do this — this building will be built,” Wood said. “But it will be built sooner with the state money.”

The center will include a state-of-the art, recovery-based rehabilitation clinic, orthopedic group, research space for visiting researchers and faculty, laboratory and teaching facilities, according to promotional materials. The goal is to attract high-performance athletes, wounded warriors and the aging population from around the world.

The center could open as early as July 2015, and at that timeline, Wood says the state money will be necessary. UCCS needs $27 million for the sports performance center and the application seeks $82 million for the package, also including a multi-use sports stadium, Olympic museum and a new Air Force Academy visitors center. The city is asking for $8.1 million to jump-start the UCCS sports medicine and performance center.

Wood says the UCCS Health, Arts and Wellness Village eventually will include a high-altitude track, training and research facility; a one-stop senior health care services building; a trauma clinic, specializing in post-traumatic stress disorder; a brain-injury treatment center and a medically based fitness center.

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The first building in the village is the Lane Center for Academic Health Sciences, already under construction, to include the Peak Vista Senior Clinic, CU Aging Center, Gerontology Center, a health, trauma and hazards center and clinics operated by the Beth-El College of Nursing and Health Sciences.

“We looked at how we can take our experience in the city and on campus and use that,” Wood said. “The performance site will focus on what we have here — a very large percentage of high-performance athletes, not just Olympic athletes, but all areas. We’re looking at the whole market niche: research, education, faculty. And we’re adding the education side, too — research on orthopedic surgery, physical therapy and rehabilitation medicine.”

The rest of the money for the project will come from lease arrangements within the clinics to private groups who want to pay for space. UCCS is also using some philanthropic donations and some state money.

“We might even issue some bonds, if necessary,” Wood said. “It’s really a five-legged stool. If we get the state money, we can make this happen much more quickly — easier, quicker, faster.”

And UCCS is thinking big. It points to the economic impact of other medical destination centers such as the Mayo Clinic and Cleveland Clinic. According to the city’s proposal, the Mayo Clinic has a national economic impact of $22 billion and indirectly supports more than 144,000 jobs, while the Cleveland Clinic has an economic impact of $10.5 billion and supports more than 81,000 total jobs.

“What we want is for people to come here for the research and treatment,” Wood said. “They’ll bring their families with them — the average stay at Walter Reed is four weeks for family — and the family can take advantage of the other things to do in town. Colorado Springs is already a tourist destination, so it makes sense that people would choose to come here for rehabilitation because their families can stay occupied and engaged during their treatment.”

But getting to the level of the Mayo and Cleveland clinics? That won’t be easy.

Cleveland Clinic

The Cleveland Clinic was started 91 years ago by a group of Ohio doctors who practiced together during World War I. They wanted to take that experience of working together and apply it to civilian life. The approach of hiring doctors instead of letting them just work at the clinic encouraged innovation. It was successful beyond their dreams, says Dr. James Merlino, chief experience officer. The Cleveland Clinic has 5.1 million patients annually from all 50 states and 132 countries; it employs 3,000 doctors and scientists.

“People started coming here from around the world because of our outcomes, because of our quality,” Merlino said. “That’s what drove it. But we got away from the patient experience, and we weren’t getting very high satisfaction rates. People came here because of our outcomes, but they didn’t like us.”

Thanks to a new patient satisfaction initiative and a focus on the overall patient experience, things have improved. The satisfaction rate is about 92 percent, he said. And that’s good, thanks to more competition.

“If you want to become a medical destination center, you’re looking at a specific group of people,” he said. “People who are well-educated, able to travel and have the means to pay for the care and the travel. They’re intelligent consumers of health; they do their research and they know what they want. They participate in their health care. So it’s about high quality care, but it’s also about the amenities. They pay attention to that.”

And the UCCS centers will be competing for that market with a number of well-established, nationwide health clinics, he said.

“Competition is tight,” Merlino said. “It’s a crowded market for a specific type of person. You can’t just have nice rooms, you have to have a high-quality, safe experience. But you need amenities that will attract people and their families. There are so many people out there competing in that market. It could be tough to get started.”

Mayo Clinic

UCCS will compete against a newly announced public-private partnership among the Mayo Clinic, the city of Rochester, Minn., and the state of Minnesota. Mayo is pouring billions into clinics and staffing, with the state adding millions for infrastructure, restaurants and retail facilities downtown, making the Mayo Clinic an even more desirable destination for medical care.

Currently, the clinic’s 1.5 million patients come from all 50 states and 140 countries — but officials want to change that, says Lisa Clarke, division chair for community engagement. Minnesota lawmakers passed a bill providing $585 million for the necessary citywide infrastructure, while Mayo will pay $6.9 billion during the next 20 years to attract more patients.

“We want to grow,” Clarke said. “And we want the city to grow with us — so we launched this public-private partnership. None of the public money will go to Mayo Clinic buildings or programs. It will all go to build the infrastructure to attract jobs and people.”

The Destination Medical Clinic is expected to bring between 35,000 and 40,000 new jobs to Minnesota, with an economic impact of $45 million just during construction. The state will receive an additional $2.5 billion to $3 billion in tax revenue.

“We’re building on a reputation that was created 100 years ago,“ Clarke said. “For someone to do that from scratch? I just can’t say how successful it will be.”


  1. Having a world famous clinic in Colorado Springs may be the most important component of the City of Champions proposal.

  2. I don’t understand why people don’t get the fact that cities, people, sometimes have to take out a loan/raises taxes in order to make themselves a more attractive place.

  3. lalahartma, the University is owned and funded by the state. It’s the state investing in it’s own property, not giving just giving a handout.

  4. Compete with Cleveland Clinic, Mayo Clinic, Columbia, etc? Good luck with that!
    Maybe they should focus on what this city is known for: the Olympic Training Center.
    Sports Medicine does not make a tremendous amount of money, but it does attract attention. If there is one thing this city should do, it would be try and focus on things it already has.
    Short term: a sports medicine and rehab clinic treating collegiate athletes, perhaps military veterans who are chronically debilitated (acute care is and always will be up in Denver @ the VA).
    Long term/pie in the sky with chocolate rainbows: MOVE THE OTC TO N. NEVADA/the dump that is currently ComCore/Post time racing. This would require a hail Mary cash infusion from some billionaire. U of CO could then upgrade/expand Memorial Central (seriously, that place is a dump). Growth/infill (University Village/UCCS) is naturally occurring here. Possibly wipe out the blight on the East side of North Nevada and ? gentrify the Portal neighborhood. The area north of the drainage basin and Austin Bluffs will/would most likely turn into student housing/rentals. Having UCCS/OTC near one another would be synergistic. Promote development of the west side of N. Nevada between Fillmore and Austin Bluffs as more shopping/entertainment and Olympic village. Centrally located health club like Villa Sport or Lifetime (? if enough business, but would location attract commuters/Westside/North end?), movie theatre, more shopping/dining. Eventual central hub with headquarters of the governing bodies (USAT, US Cycling, US Volleyball, etc) within walking/riding/short drive distance of USOT, UCCS, UC Sport Med Center of Excellence, ? engineering programs with sports focus (SRAM, et al) and/or medical device focus, UV Shopping center, Goose Gossage, Penrose Main. All of that on the Pikes Peak Greenway trail. Demographics point towards people moving back into cities. However, it’s all pie in the sky and chances are USOT will move out of COS and we will stagnate/remain as is for the foreseeable future.

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