Plans were unveiled Wednesday for a new Colorado Springs Switchbacks FC (USL) stadium, part of the city’s broader City for Champions project.
Two facilities are being proposed for City for Champions, a project that also features a US Olympic Museum, United States Air Force Academy Gateway Visitor Center, and a sports medicine center. One of the proposed facilities is an indoor arena that will be used for Colorado College ice hockey and additional events, while the other is a new outdoor stadium for the Switchbacks.
The Switchbacks’ new home will be constructed at a downtown site that is bordered by Cimarron to the North, Moreno to the South, Sierra Madre to the West, and Sahwatch to the east. It will offer a capacity of 10,000 for soccer, with the ability to host multiple types of events in addition to USL action. Development will factor into the project, as Weidner Apartment Homes will work to create a mixed-use area that offers apartments, bars, restaurants, and other features.
If plans for the new Switchbacks stadium move forward, it will replace the 5,000-seat Weidner Field as the club’s home. The Switchbacks and USL not only see the proposed new stadium as a significant upgrade that allows the club to continue competing at the Division II level, but makes the facility part of a broader development initiative. More from The Colorado Springs Gazette:
The league is adding a third-division league in 2019, and had the club not come up with plans for a bigger stadium, their second-division status was not guaranteed.
“We would’ve had to ask for an exception, which maybe you maybe get an exception for a short time,” said club president Nick Ragain while standing in the vacant lot southeast of the intersection of Sierra Madre and Cimarron. “The bottom line is we would’ve never invested in building another 5,000 seats where we are (now) because it just doesn’t make sense from a model standpoint. That’s what we were looking at. If we want to be in Colorado Springs as a Tier II franchise, we have to do something big.”
Accomplishing that something big required a lot of help from the Washington-based real estate company, which became a minority owner in the club during the process.
Not only will the maximum occupancy double, but the stadium will be accompanied by an entertainment district featuring apartments, restaurants and bars, something Josh Keller, USL vice president of business development, sees as an obvious bonus.
The Switchbacks’ new home is slated to be constructed as part of a $60 million project, with $20 million of that figure accounting for the stadium. Under the current financing proposal, the funding sources would include $10 million in state RTA bond funding, $10 million from the Switchbacks, and $40 million from Weidner Apartment Homes for the development. Along with a minority ownership stake in the team, Weidner Apartment Homes would receive naming rights to the stadium.
We’ve been covering the Colorado Springs sports-complex proposal since 2013, when city officials first pitched a $218.6-million sports complex that included an Olympic museum, a UCCS sports medicine center, a new Colorado Springs Sky Sox ballpark and a new Air Force Academy Visitor Center. But a state analysis of the proposal concluded it did not meet guidelines for state funding, and the project was basically mothballed. (Indeed, the Sky Sox will be moving to San Antonio in 2019, replaced by a rookie-level Pioneer League team.) But it’s back now, this time backed by a new set of investors and developers.
There is work remaining in the process. According to a press release from the city, the next step is the “presentation of the business plan and finding of commencement of substantial work toward the project by the Colorado Economic Development Commission at its meeting in September.” The release also states that “State RTA funding will be approximately $27.7 million over 30 years. Two-thirds of the revenue, approximately $18.5M, will be dedicated to the outdoor stadium and will support a bond of approximately $10M. One-third of the revenue, or approximately $9.2M, will be dedicated to the indoor arena and will be distributed to Colorado College as the revenue is received.” Private investment will make up the difference in the projects.