Sanders changes course on Antlers Park stadium

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On Monday afternoon, downtown hotelier and entrepreneur Perry Sanders formally abandoned his quest to repurpose Antlers Park as a sports and events center envisioned as part of a City for Champions proposal.

“I always said that we would stand aside if there was a better downtown site and now we‘re thrilled to announce that there is one,” Sanders said. “That’s thanks to [Colorado Springs City] Council President Richard Skorman, who worked all weekend to put it together.”

Neither Sanders nor Skorman, who was also present, would reveal any details about the new site.

“I think that we’re very aware of the time constraints,” said Skorman. “So we plan to release that information within a month.”

To qualify for as much as $27.7 million in Colorado state tax increment funding under the Regional Tourism Act, construction of the facility must begin by Dec. 15.

Skorman also confirmed that the city is beginning a process to “reactivate” the long-neglected Antlers Park, which Sanders, who owns the adjacent The Antlers hotel, characterized as “a place full of danger, used needles, feces and garbage.” The city will also study Alamo Square and Acacia parks, which were also dedicated by city founder Gen. William Palmer.

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Skorman also noted that the city has cancelled plans to discuss the Antlers Park proposal at the Jan. 23 city council meeting.

“I’ve gotten at least 500 email messages opposing the Antlers Park location,” Skorman said. “I wanted to help get the word out that we won’t be considering it tomorrow, because people’s time is valuable.”

Sanders said he had “an extraordinary amount of support” for the proposal.

“But for us,” he said, “it’s mission accomplished. There’s a better site and the park is going to be fixed.”

Nick Ragain, president of the Colorado Springs Switchbacks FC, confirmed the operation’s continuing interest in a downtown soccer stadium, dismissing the notion of a combined baseball/soccer facility.

“Those just don’t work,” he said. “We need a rectangular stadium, and it could accommodate sports with similar needs.”

Ragain said a 10,000-seat stadium could be built comparatively quickly, opening in 2020.