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City of Colorado Springs spends millions per year for U.S. Olympic and Paralympic headquarters

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (KRDO) - Since 2015, the City of Colorado Springs has been branded as "Olympic City USA," where athletes come to train at altitude at the foot of the Rocky Mountains.

Every year since 2009, the City of Colorado Springs has agreed to spend upwards of $1.7 million in improvements to the Olympic Training Center and the U.S. Olympic and Paralympic Committee (USOPC) headquarters in downtown Colorado Springs.

The 30-year agreement between the City of Colorado Springs and the USOPC came with a price tag of $31.74 million. That money was financed in 2017 when the city refinanced the debt through a refunding bond. Essentially, the city would pay a principal amount, with interest, annually to pay off the $31.74 million. In 2015, the USOPC gave the City of Colorado Springs exclusive trademark rights to be named "Olympic City USA" under the previous agreement for no extra cost.

Every year, this number would equate to the previously mentioned $1.7 million, with that number only increasing every year.

Money paid annually by the City of Colorado Springs

KRDO13 Investigates sat down with Jesse Kimber, Chief Economic Development Officer for the City of Colorado Springs, to discuss the benefits Colorado Springs has enjoyed since becoming Olympic City USA.

"We have such a beautiful ecosystem here to draw in not only sporting venues, but but athletes looking for inspiration and places to train. And this is the perfect place to do it," Kimber said.

Kimber says the number of athletes and coaches flocking to Colorado Springs has only increased the revenue the city has generated, along with the events bringing in new visitors to the Pikes Peak region.

"We have the Broadmoor World Arena. We have the Manitou Incline. Athletes come from all over the world to train in Colorado Springs because of the assets that we have right here, but also the landscape, the altitude, the training potential," Kimber said.

Kimber adds that the namesake alone and the brand of being known as the Olympic City come with their own benefits as the multi-colored rings are a worldwide, recognizable brand.

"We are Olympic City USA. So when you look at being the epicenter of the Olympic movement, it is a way to galvanize the sports ecosystem," Kimber said. "If you look at just the core values of the Olympic movement, excellence, friendship, and respect, those are kind of a rallying cry to like-minded partners who want to come and live and train in Colorado Springs."

Documents show the U.S. Olympic and Paralympic Committee, a registered nonprofit, can buy out of its agreement with the City of Colorado Springs in October 2024.

Per the lease agreement between the City of Colorado Springs and the USOPC, the USOPC would have to pay "liquidated damages" based on the buyout year. The amount owed, which isn't precisely stated in the agreement, is more if the buyout occurs in 2024 and significantly less if it occurs in 2039. 

It's a buyout that the USOPC tells KRDO13 Investigates it doesn't plan to utilize.

"We have not had any indication from our partners over at the USOPC. We keep our conversations open. It's a private decision. And we believe that they're very happy here in Colorado Springs," Kimber said.

When asked about the buyout option and teams moving to train in North Carolina, Sarah Hirshland, CEO of the U.S. Olympic & Paralympic Committee, issued the following statement,

The USOPC is proud to call Colorado Springs home, and proud that our presence here has grown so significantly over time. With more than 40 years at the Olympic & Paralympic Training Center, the headquarters in downtown, the world class Olympic & Paralympic Museum and as home to many NGBs, Colorado Springs truly is Olympic City USA.

-- Sarah Hirshland

Editor's note: A previous version of this story said that the City of Colorado Springs paid millions to be branded "Olympic City USA". The City of Colorado Springs pays for the headquarters offices and other buildings the U.S. Olympic and Paralympic uses in the city. That agreement also allows the city to be branded "Olympic City USA".

The full agreement can be read below.

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Sean Rice

Sean is reporter with the 13 Investigates team. Learn more about him here.


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