In a recent edition of the Colorado Springs Business Journal, John Hazlehurst suggested that Olympic City USA may not be the right brand for Colorado Springs. Really?
Colorado Springs has a wonderful, small-town feel, but a heart and spirit as big as any top-tier city. We have Pikes Peak — a glorious mountain that beckons millions of visitors each year to reach its 14,115-foot summit by train, car, foot or bike. We have the spectacular Garden of the Gods Park, providing such stunning scenic beauty and geological history that it is consistently ranked the No. 1 or No. 2 park in the U.S. by TripAdvisor. We have the U.S. Air Force Academy with nearly a dozen areas open to the public to showcase the impressive young men and women that attend one of the most exclusive educational institutions in the country. We have more than 55 attractions and activities to keep visitors busy for weeks on end (if only Americans would use all their paid time off, but that’s an op-ed for another day).
People come to Colorado Springs for many reasons. Encapsulating that into a single, recognizable brand is no small task. If only there was a concept, or perhaps a movement, that could pull it all together. A movement that stands for excellence, friendship and respect. A concept that embodies courage, determination, equality and inspiration. If only such a thing existed, and Colorado Springs could be the destination chosen to share these values with the country. There is: The Olympic and Paralympic Movement.
It is the most recognized brand in the world, with 95 percent of respondents correctly identifying the Olympic rings after the 2012 Games in London in a study conducted by Sponsorship Intelligence, a Publicis company. The Olympic symbol outperformed other global brands that work endlessly and spend billions to associate their products and services with concepts such as “inspirational, diversity, optimistic, excellence, global and inclusive.” The Olympic Games have the highest appeal and awareness ratings among the study’s respondents, especially among people ages 8 to 18.
If only Colorado Springs could legally and officially use components of the Olympic brand to generate awareness of and visitation to our amazing city. Well, we can: In 2014, the U.S. Olympic Committee granted Colorado Springs permission to brand itself “Olympic City USA.” They granted this exclusive moniker to a city with a thriving sports ecosystem that includes: USOC headquarters, U.S. Paralympics, 23 National Governing Bodies of sport, the Colorado Springs Olympic Training Center, two official Olympic Training Sites, the William J. Hybl Sports Medicine and Performance Center on the UCCS campus that will be under construction soon and the U.S. Olympic Museum, which will be completed in two short years. Our brand is an excellent catalyst for economic vitality.
Our connection to the Olympics and the Olympic values is a huge asset that we have — and other cities do not. That connection and pride grows stronger every day. The Olympic Games have always transcended sports. It’s about people and their need to participate, achieve and excel. It’s about the beauty of the dream, struggle and reality. Failing and falling and getting back up again and again until we reach our limits … and the finish line … and the podium.
It’s time that we align with this beautiful, recognizable brand to proudly declare to the world that we are about excellence and Colorado Springs is Olympic City USA.
Doug Price, president/CEO, Colorado Springs CVB
Janet Suthers, Olympic City USA Task Force