U.S. Olympic and Paralympic Museum spurs change in Southwest Downtown

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COLORADO SPRINGS — Officially, the plans started in 2012 to create the United States’ first museum dedicated to athletes who became the pinnacle of their sports on the international stage. Unofficially, however, the conversations first started in the 1980’s, according to Colorado Springs Mayor John Suthers.

“They actually talked about the Tiffany Square Shopping Center…that fell through. Then they talked about Banning Lewis Ranch…that fell through,” Mayor Suthers recalled. “Then, of course, the City for Champions came along seven years ago and the City’s dream has come true.”

Though the sprawl of the city has knocked downtown off-centered, those other locations were far from its original heart. Now, located off of Sierra Madre Street and Vermijo Avenue, Mayor Suthers sees the museum as a spur to the once-blighted area of southwest downtown.

“Two and a half years ago, it was just a pile of dirt,” he said. “We had the groundbreaking, there were warehouses around and now, we have a fantastic anchor for southwest downtown. It really is transforming downtown.”

A block or two to the east, a hotel is under construction and Suthers says a convention center is to follow. A block to the south, the new Weidner Field and Switchback Stadium is starting to take shape.

The museum, Suthers and Colorado Democratic Governor Jared Polis say, will bring a national and international visitors.

“When people come to Colorado, they’re going to visit Denver, they’re going to visit Colorado Springs: Garden of the Gods, Air Force Academy, the Olympic Museum, our mountain areas in western Colorado,” Gov. Polis said. “It’s good for our economy, billions of dollars, good jobs, and a great experience for Colorado families.”

The opening of the museum isn’t ideal for an international audience, as the pandemic has largely limited international travel. In the meantime, the mayor hopes its a draw for other Coloradans and expects neighboring states to be represented too.

It can pad some of the hurt left in the wake of dwindling business in the city.

“[The museum] will help generate tax revenue for our small businesses, our large businesses. It will bring visitors,” President and CEO of Visit Colorado Springs Doug Price said.

To see the museum’s attractions see our earlier coverage in this link.

To see why public health experts say the museum is a “public health dream” see our earlier coverage in this link.

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