Colorado College hockey arena wins Colorado Springs’ approval as City for Champions initiative advances


Three days after a groundbreaking for a downtown Colorado Springs stadium, another City for Champions project has reached a major milestone.

The Colorado Springs City Council on Tuesday approved plans for a 3,400-seat indoor arena at the southern end of Colorado College’s campus, clearing the way for a February groundbreaking of the facility.

The Robson Arena, which is slated for completion in summer 2021, will house the college’s Tigers men’s hockey team and serve as a venue for other events throughout the year during academic breaks, officials said.

“We really feel that this is going to be transformational for us, obviously not only for the hockey team, but for the campus community, for students, for faculty, for staff,” said Lesley Irvine, Colorado College’s athletic director and vice president.

The arena will occupy a city block, bound by Dale Street to the south, Tejon Street to the west, Cache La Poudre Street to the north, and Nevada Avenue to the east. Development plans also include a 324-spot parking garage on Dale Street and space for campus offices, college retailers and a restaurant along Tejon Street.

It’s part of a series of projects, dubbed the “City for Champions” campaign, that were originally proposed by city officials and civic leaders in 2013 and designed to boost Colorado tourism. Construction officially began on Saturday on another centerpiece of the initiative: the 8,000-seat outdoor stadium, at Cimarron and Sahwatch streets, that will serve as the home of the Swtichbacks soccer team.

The other projects are the nearly completed U.S. Olympic and Paralympic Museum at 200 S. Sierra Madre St., a new visitors center at the Air Force Academy and a sports medicine center on the University of Colorado at Colorado Springs campus.

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The council’s 7-0 approval of the arena plans came despite concerns from a few residents, who said they fear the “monster” arena will bring on a parking crisis for surrounding neighborhoods.

Council President Richard Skorman and Councilman Wayne Williams were absent from the meeting.

“What if the neighborhood is inundated with cars?” Cheryl Brown, who lives on Dale Street, asked the council.

“We would love this thing to be successful. We would love for this thing to not impact for us. But if it does, what is going to happen?”

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But others, including other residents, praised the project’s potential and the college’s efforts to address area residents’ concerns.

Councilman Bill Murray said the project “is in the best interest of the city.” Councilwoman Jill Gaebler agreed, commending the college and residents for finding “common ground.”

The arena’s new parking structure, another new 100-space lot planned near the site, existing parking facilities and on-street parking will be more than enough to accommodate the arena’s visitors when it’s at capacity, said Project Manager Chris Lieber.

About 1,200 spaces will be needed for a sold-out game, assuming that some students attend and some people share vehicles, according to a parking study commissioned for the project. With the new parking capacity, there will be about 1,300 spots available on game days.

Residents surrounding the arena will be issued parking permits so that people attending events at the arena can’t take the on-street spots that are typically occupied by locals’ vehicles, city officials say.

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The college is also open to establishing a shuttle system that would bring eventgoers to and from the core downtown area, Lieber said.

Councilman Andy Pico said he supported the project “reluctantly” and that the college has “a ways to go” to resolve the parking concerns.

“I came in here highly skeptical that the parking was really going to work,” Pico said. “The impact to the neighborhoods is the issue.”

The college is financing the project internally, with the help of $9 million in state sales tax rebates, officials said. Donors have committed more than $26 million, and a fundraising campaign is ongoing.