In 1978, the United States Olympic Committee made its home in Colorado Springs, Colorado. Forty years – and one U.S. Olympic Training Center, two dozen national governing bodies, thousands of international sporting competitions and a downtown headquarters building – later, the USOC and the city of Colorado Springs took the next step in their partnership.
The effort to create the U.S. Olympic Museum and Hall of Fame began in 2013 and on Friday, the long-awaited groundbreaking ceremony was held to officially begin construction. Several Team USA athletes were on hand to help commemorate the site that will one day memorialize their stories.
“This is an historic and transformational day for the city of Colorado Springs and the Pikes Peak region,” said Colorado Springs Mayor John Suthers. “Because today we break ground on the nation’s one and only Olympic museum and hall of fame, and we continue to construct the foundation for our future as Olympic City, USA.”
In 2014, the USOC signed a renewable agreement granting it 30 years operation of the museum. Located on a site in downtown Colorado Springs, just blocks from the USOC headquarters building, the museum will honor Team USA’s rich Olympic and Paralympic heritage in a series of state-of-the-art exhibits.
The museum is scheduled to open in 2019 and will be the first of its kind in the United States.
“Olympic and Paralympic athletes often toil away for years in relative obscurity in hopes of someday representing their country on the world stage,” said Benita Fitzgerald Mosley, CEO of Laureus USA, USOM board member and 1984 Olympic gold medalist. “Each of the 9,024 Olympians and 1,500 Paralympians that have had the honor of representing their country have had their own unique stories, their own unique journey, and now our collective journey will finally be told in magnificent fashion.
“The museum will fuel the dreams and aspirations of the millions of young children who are thinking about flipping and jumping and running and rolling and kicking and riding and throwing and swimming their way to Olympic glory.”
The USOM expects to serve 350,000 annual visitors, 60-80 percent of which are projected to visit from out of state, providing a significant tourism boost to the Pikes Peak region.
Colorado Governor John Hickenlooper, who proclaimed June 9, 2017 to be U.S. Olympic Museum Hall of Fame Day, hopes to see an increase in the annual 130,000 visitors to the Olympic Training Center.
“I think the synergy between this museum and the training center is going to be profound,” Hickenlooper said. “The museum is going to build and really capitalize on the region’s strengths that have been developed for so many years. It’s going to help spur development downtown. This is going to play a huge role.”
On hand at the groundbreaking was a number of dignitaries, from Suthers, Hickenlooper and Fitzgerald, to USOM Chairman of the Board Dick Celeste and USOC CEO Scott Blackmun. Each mentioned the celebration of Olympic values as a core goal of the USOM. Celeste harkened back to the Olympic creed in discussing the inspiring stories that will be told within the walls of the museum, a sentiment that Blackmun echoed.
“The Olympic movement is different,” Blackmun said. “It’s not like other sporting events, because it’s values-based. That combined with the fact that our athletes are representing their nation is why more people watch the Olympic Games than any other property. And it’s why people are going to come to Colorado Springs to be a part of it. We’re grateful at the USOC to support this great project.”