In response to a looming March 31 fundraising deadline, the Colorado Springs Convention & Visitors Bureau has pledged $500,000 to the Olympic Museum and Hall of Fame over the next three years.
The pledge, approved by a substantial majority of the CVB board, is “absolutely” aligned with CVB’s mission, according to its CEO, Doug Price.
“The museum is really the centerpiece of all the City for Champions projects,” Price said. “All of them hinge on the success of the Olympic Museum. There’s no other project that will change the city in the way that the museum will.”
Price also noted that there’s a precedent for the CVB’s donation.
“Twenty years ago the CVB made a much larger donation to the World Arena,” he noted. “In fact, the city just took it out of the CVB’s LART [Lodging and Automobile Rental Tax] budget before the funds were actually transferred to the bureau.”
Some of the LART funds that would ordinarily have been allocated to the CVB were used to support the construction of the arena. Although the city had long adhered to an informal agreement that two-thirds of annual LART collections would be used to support the CVB, there was no statutory requirement mandating those distributions.
According to museum supporters, the March 31 deadline has been imposed by a three-bank consortium that have agreed to purchase $26.2 million in bonds backed by state tax-increment financing authorized by the Colorado Regional Tourism Act. The banks are said to be unwilling to go through with the deal until museum backers have raised all of the soft and hard costs, totaling approximately $75 million, including bond receipts.
“We think we need to raise [an additional] $8.3 million, not including the CVB’s contribution,” said Dick Celeste, the museum board chair who has served as governor of Ohio, ambassador to India and president of Colorado College. “We’re making serious progress, and I think we’ll get there.”
The museum has also asked for $500,000 in LART funds from the city. The request received preliminary approval from a citizen’s advisory committee, and city council is expected to consider it in February.
It’s not clear whether the banks will extend the deadline, or whether it’s being used as a fundraising tool to motivate foot-dragging contributors. The hard deadline for the project will occur in 2018, when work must begin to comply with the five-year deadline of the Regional Tourism Act.