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Is Colorado Springs too crappy even for the crappy Rockies?

Colin D. | September 17, 2014

“Once vibrant, downtown Colorado Springs is a sad wasteland now. Development has been pushed east and the heart of the city has been left to wither.”

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The City of Colorado Springs is spoiled by beauty. The idyllic burg is nestled at the base of Pikes Peak and features an awe-inspiring view of the Rocky Mountain front range. It’s a place that could be everything but tries hard to be nothing. Trust me – I am from there.

No place in America is the cultural division between the “haves” and the “have nots” more evident. It’s a town that has cut community resources to the bone, shut down parks and pools and even stopped powering street lights in certain neighborhoods at night. It’s the home of Douglas Bruce and the tax-slicing capital of America. It’s more bent on at attracting tourism than in improving the quality of life of its residents and it’s losing everything.

Once vibrant, downtown Colorado Springs is a sad wasteland now. Development has been pushed east and the heart of the city has been left to wither. Retailers come and go from downtown shops and traditional “fixtures” like Michelle’s Candies are long gone.

Each year the civic events that residents pride themselves on are threatened. The massive Fourth of July celebration in Memorial Park may or may not happen on an annual basis depending on the fiscal mood of city leaders. The Colorado Springs Balloon Classic, a local tradition since 1977, was held in Colorado Springs for the final time in 2014. Event organizers finally grew weary of the city’s penny pinching and has launched a search for a new location.

Now Colorado Springs is at risk of losing its affiliation with the Colorado Rockies. According to BaseballAmerica.com, the big club is looking at dumping the Colorado Springs Sky Sox as a AAA affiliate and aligning instead with the Albuquerque Isotopes (yes, they got their name from a Simpson’s episode). The reason? The Rockies were promised a new downtown baseball park and the city of Colorado Springs has failed to build one.

From BaseballAmerica: “There will be no shortage of activity this offseason, with six teams likely changing places in the Pacific Coast League. The most surprising of those is Colorado Springs, which has been partners with the Rockies since 1993. Any fallout between the two sides might be over Security Service Field. Rockies ownership has stated its desire to play in a modern ballpark and Sky Sox owner Dave Elmore did pursue a new stadium as part of a downtown revitalization before the project was scrapped by city officials late last year.”

Colorado Springs is pushing a plan it calls “City of Champions” which would create a $250M sports tourism district. According to the Gazette Telegraph this would include: “Four proposed tourism projects for Colorado Springs – a downtown Olympic Museum; a downtown sports and event center; a new Air Force Academy visitors center; and a sports medicine and performance center at the University of Colorado at Colorado Springs. In addition, City for Champions includes several southwest downtown public improvements, including a 1,500-space parking garage and a 500-foot pedestrian bridge to link America the Beautiful Park to the rest of southwest downtown.”

What “City of Champions” will not include is an urban home for the Sky Sox. Thus the reason the Rockies are looking for a new AAA partner.
This does not necessarily mean that the Sky Sox would leave Colorado Springs, but it means they would left to shop for a relationship with a MLB club. Prior to 1993 the team was an underling to the Chicago White Sox, but they have been a farm team for the Rockies ever since the Rockies came to be.

It will be a terrible shame if Colorado severs ties with the Sky Sox. Fans in Colorado Springs enjoy seeing starts like Troy Tulowitzki visit on their rehab assignments. The association also allows the fans in Colorado Springs to feel as though they’re a part of the Denver sports community. But it looks as though once again their wants and needs will take back seat the grand vision of the “haves” that have done their best to ruin a once-great town.

Written by Colin D.

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