Hundreds of Colorado Springs city officials, local leaders and advocates converged downtown last week to witness a groundbreaking for the 60,000-square-foot, $75 million U.S. Olympic Museum and Hall of Fame.

The crowd gathered June 9 at the intersection of South Sierra Madre Street and Vermijo Avenue to celebrate the kickoff of construction of the museum, which is being built on land donated by Colorado Springs-based Nor’wood Development Group. Several local and state dignitaries spoke during the event, including Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper, Colorado Springs Mayor John Suthers, U.S. Olympic Museum Chairman Dick Celeste, U.S. Olympic Committee CEO Scott Blackmun and USOC Chief Organizational Excellence Officer Benita Fitzgerald-Mosley.

“This is an historic and transformative day for the city of Colorado Springs and for the Pikes Peak region,” Suthers said. “Because today we break ground on the nation’s one and only Olympic Museum and Hall of Fame, and we continue to construct the foundation for our future as Olympic City USA.”

0616---Olympic-Museum-Groundbreaking---Cameron-Moix28CCWhen complete, the museum campus is planned to include an Olympic Hall of Fame, theater, shops and dining options — and creates a new anchor for the city’s downtown core. Upon opening, which is slated for summer 2019, organizers anticipate the facility will attract 350,000 tourists each year.

“Coloradoans love sport and always have,” Hickenlooper said. “The fact that there is such a strong Olympic character in the Springs is a testament to that and something that is embraced throughout the state.”

Hickenlooper also brought a proclamation that, among other things, designated June 9 in Colorado as U.S. Olympic Museum and Hall of Fame Day.

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“The U.S. Olympic Museum will be the place to honor American Olympic athletes and showcase the universal values of excellence, friendship and the philosophy of the Olympic games,” Hickenlooper said in the proclamation.

The Olympic Museum is part of the City for Champions project, which received seed funding through the Colorado Economic Development Commission in 2013 thanks to the state’s Regional Tourism Act. The landmark structure is being made possible by state and local funding, bank financing and private donations. Celeste said that two-thirds of the money is private.

“The endeavor of bringing this museum to life has required the vision of, the hard work and the talents of world-class leaders,” said Fitzgerald-Mosley. “We’ve partnered with world-class designers and architects to build an iconic, world-class building. This museum will sit in the shadow of Pikes Peak in the world-class city of Colorado Springs. And the museum will honor the achievements of our world-class Olympic and Paralympic athletes.”

The general contractor on the project is Colorado Springs-based GE Johnson Construction Co. Among the designers working on the museum is Gallagher & Associates, a Washington, D.C.-based exhibit design firm responsible for the U.S. Spy Museum Washington D.C. and the National World War II Museum in New Orleans.

In closing, Celeste invited the crowd to return to the site on June 9, 2019, to view its progress: “It will look totally different … and you will see a stunning building, which is even more stunning when you consider the experiences inside.”