A ceremonial groundbreaking in downtown Colorado Springs Friday marked the start of construction on a new museum dedicated to U.S. Olympic history and ideals.
Plans for the United States Olympic Museum and Hall of Fame include interactive exhibits, artifacts, and a broadcast studio, all in a design that museum board chair Dick Celeste said evokes those same ideals. Celeste is a former governor of Ohio and U.S. Ambassador.
"We're going to celebrate Olympic values," Celeste said at the ceremony. "When we talk about 'swifter, higher, stronger,' I think you will see that in the building itself."
The goal of the museum, Celeste said, "is to tell the stories of Olympic and Paralympic athletes in a way that is compelling for everyone who visits, and is inspiring for everyone who visits."
A who's who of government and community leaders, including Colorado Governor John Hickenlooper and United States Olympic Committee CEO Scott Blackmun, gathered at the site with Olympic and Paralympic athletes to mark the groundbreaking, which comes after four years of planning, fundraising, and design.
"The museum will fuel the dreams and aspirations of millions of young children who are thinking about flipping, and jumping and running and rolling… their way to Olympic glory," said museum board member Benita Fitzgerald-Mosley in her opening remarks. Fitzgerald-Mosely is a 1984 Olympic gold medalist in the 100-meter hurdles.
The $75 million facility, paid through public and private funds, is seen as a boon to revitalization efforts in parts of downtown Colorado Springs and is expected to boost tourism numbers.
For Colorado Springs Mayor John Suthers, the day was historic.
"We have been a city where Olympic dreams are born and nurtured," Suthers said in prepared remarks. "Henceforth, we will be the city where Olympic excellence is enshrined for the ages, a place where Americans will come to learn about and be inspired by the efforts and accomplishments of great athletes, and be inspired to embrace the Olympic values of excellence, friendship, and respect."
The site of the museum is blocks from the headquarters of the United States Olympic Committee and two miles from the Olympic Training Center. Colorado Springs, dubbed "Olympic City USA," is also home to more than 20 Olympic sport National Governing Bodies.