The Eye: $700K going to stadium consultants

Hiring consultants can cost serious money.

Good thing CSU has already raised some $700,000 to fund the feasibility study on the proposed on-campus stadium, money that has been used to hire consultants like ICON Venue Group, CSL International and Populous.

According to stadium committee documents, some committee members also traveled to Minnesota to lay eyes on TCF Bank Stadium at the University of Minnesota, often used as a point of reference for CSU’s potential stadium.

Athletic Director Jack Graham first reported the number at a breakfast held by the Northern Colorado Commercial Association of Realtors last winter, and recently said that he will not outspend that figure.

The $700,000 goal was set by Graham in January, just before the stadium committee began its work in February, to pay for the feasibility work and the initial design plans for the stadium.

The money was raised through private donations, according to Graham’s presentation to NCCAR.

When ‘gone dark’ is good

If your sense is that the talk around the former Agilent Technologies plant in Loveland has “gone quiet or gone dark” lately, that’s a good thing.

At least that’s what jobs-hunter Kelly Peters at the Northern Colorado Economic Development Corp. is suggesting.

“Gone quiet may be a good thing,” she wrote in a note in the NCEDC’s latest newsletter.

According to Peters, any buzz about a business moving into a place like the Rocky Mountain Center for Innovation and Technology could ruin a deal.

So when things quiet down, she suggested, it “may mean the owners and NCEDC are in deep negotiation with large tenants on price, state and local incentives and more.”

Kelly also noted that the property’s owner, Kentucky-based Cumberland & Western Resources, has spent more than $1 million in improvements to landscaping, parking lots and roofs lately. That money has gone entirely to local vendors to date, she said.

She also pointed out that Cumberland & Western has owned the property since just December, when it paid the city of Loveland $5 million in cash.

You may recall it’s also been only a few months since the Colorado Association for Manufacturing and Technology’s decision to withdraw its Aerospace and Clean Energy initiative from the Loveland site. The association said Cumberland & Western was moving in a direction that didn’t fit the project.

But the center will see some activity next month with a visit from NASA scientists and administrators. The visit is a part of Loveland’s technology transfer initiative to promote local companies’ technologies to NASA.

Why meet at a still-vacant center for a tech showcase of Loveland companies? Because the center boasts ample space and parking for the gathering, says Betsey Hale, Loveland’s economic development director.

The Sept. 5 event also will help market the campus to companies considering relocation.

Forgiving the McKee debt?

One of the Ranch’s bigger financial issues may be on its way to being resolved.

As reported on these pages in 2011, the event center has been losing nearly a half-million dollars a year thanks to its McKee 4-H, Youth and Community Building.

A $3 million loan from the county’s Solid Waste Department funded most of the cost of the building, which was opened in 2006 and is used by 4-H, Boy Scouts and other community groups for meetings and events free of charge. The county was running an annual deficit of $240,000 to repay the loan on the building, while spending on operations and maintenance amounted to another $225,000.

Add in losses from the county fair, and The Ranch was losing half a million dollars annually.

In response, the county recently refinanced The Ranch’s bonds, saving about $300,000 annually. And the fair is losing less money now – hopefully less than $50,000 for this year’s festivities – after several years of steeper losses.

Better yet, Weld County Commissioner Steve Johnson has now asked the Solid Waste Department to forgive the loan. The county could reimburse the department from the county’s general fund or sales tax from The Ranch, he said.

“We’re looking at a way to build a more solid financial foundation for The Ranch to continue to grow and expand its usefulness to the community,” Johnson said.

The McKee building wasn’t really supposed to make money, anyway.

Think of it as akin to a library: destined to lose money while receiving its funding from other sources of revenue and providing a valuable community service by offering space for hundreds of annual events.

“That building was never put there to pay for itself,” Ranch Director Bob Herrfeldt said. “It’s part of our culture out here; that’s why it’s there.”

So far, the Ranch has paid off $1 million on the loan used to erect the McKee building and has a $2 million balance remaining.

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