The Future Legends Sports Complex (formerly known as Colorado National Sports Park) is a private project with a public partnership component tied to the Town of Windsor. With construction of a 118-acre sports tourism park underway at the location commonly known as the Diamond Valley ballfields, Weld County Commissioners made a last-minute decision without making notice to any of the participating parties to pull out of a statewide program that makes private funding available to qualifying projects.
The state-supported Commercial Property Assessed Clean Energy finance program, also known also as the C-PACE clean energy program, allows developers to secure low-interest and low-risk loans. It is only available to property owners located in counties participating in the state-backed program. On Oct. 23, 2017, the Board of Weld County Commissioners unanimously adopted Resolution No. 2017-3636, authorizing participation in the state C-PACE clean energy program, a program supported by the State of Colorado’s Energy Office. On February 20, the Board of County Commissioners received notification that the Future Legends Sports Complex had submitted a program application seeking $20 million in C-PACE funding, equaling roughly 13% of its capital stack.
To participate in C-PACE, the property owner engages with a selected capital provider. In this case, owners of the Future Legends Sports Complex chose Petros PACE Finance LLC, to prepare and execute a financing agreement. The capital provider then instigates project closing and assessment records with the county where the property resides. With C-PACE no public funds are required for the program and no county liabilities are created.
That is when, according to Windsor Economic Development Director Stacy Miller, the Future Legends Sport Complex project’s future was jeopardized by a single decision made by the Board of Weld County Commissioners.
Only six days later—on February 26 and with no prior indication that Weld County commissioners intended to back out of the C-PACE program—Weld County commissioners voted unanimously to dissolve county participation. It appears the decision to disavowal program support was in response to notification that the board received from Petros PACE Finance, LLC’s that the project intended to secure C-PACE funding.
“By all appearances, the Weld County commissioners had to know that recusal from the C-PACE program would damage the project’s success,” said Windsor Mayor Kristie Melendez. “This project was set to provide the town with a major and revolving source of revenue generated from hotel visitation, retail opportunities and sports tourism activities.”
Melendez notes, “If C-PACE was such bad policy, then why was it passed unanimously in 2017, sat on the county and state books for almost three years and was only terminated after an application from Windsor was submitted? Why didn’t the Town of Windsor or anyone on the project get a courtesy call to hear the concerns and have an opportunity to address or refute the decision?”
Aside from supporting the local economy, Melendez states the bigger picture harms Weld County’s economy as well.
“I can’t understand why, at this crucial time, with everything our communities are facing in terms of public health and safety and when everything else in the business world as we know it is changing and crashing around us, why we can’t get Weld County to see the importance and magnitude of this project,” says an impassioned Melendez. “The jobs, the economics, the financial implications of this project are crucial and substantial and would greatly aid in our regional financial recovery. It’s not what this project brings to Windsor, but what it brings to the entire Northern Colorado Region, specifically to Weld County and to our state.”
According to Project Developer Jeff Katofsky, Future Legends was never notified that Weld County’s intention to pull out of the state-supported program. Business eligibility relied on county participation so the Petros PACE Finance, LLC loan was no longer an option. Up until that point, the loan was secure with a closing date scheduled. It was only upon Petros PACE’s finalization of loan closing documents that the Future Legends owner became aware of Weld County’s program dissolution.
Various attempts were made between the organization representing the financial interests of the loan, Mayor Melendez, and multiple state and local dignitaries to encourage Weld County commissioners to follow the intent of the original county resolution supporting C-PACE participation. This included offering that a third party, in place of Weld County, could handle the assessment collection obligation. In this scenario, the county would have no obligation with the project.
“There’s an option for commissioners to make an allowance for the sports complex project to move forward with C-PACE funding, but it relies on them holding up the spirit of the original resolution,” says Melendez.
Weld County commissioners’ dissolution of C-PACE participation was outside of Windsor’s control and Melendez believes that the decision is highly indefensible, as it may ensure the sports complex—which was projected to create nearly 1,500 job opportunities during the construction phase alone—will not succeed, having a severe negative impact on Windsor’s economic resources.
According to Melendez, “We were on the verge of something great, something for which we all could have been proud. Instead we are now facing a severe negative financial impact for not only Windsor, but for all of Northern Colorado.”
“If you have a player at this time under these conditions still willing to move forward, any community would count itself lucky and would fight for it and do everything it takes to make sure that project comes to fruition,” says Melendez. “That’s what we’re fighting for right now. The lack of Weld commissioners’ support of the C-PACE program puts this project at risk of terminating and becoming a dead dream. It’s a job killer and an economy crusher that once gone, we will never get back nor is there anything of its kind to replace it with.”
A letter from Petros PACE Finance, LLC dated March 26, 2020, to Weld County commissioners, stated that the project would include over 250 hotel rooms, a retail center with national and local tenants, a viable sports venue and more. “The annual economic impact is in the tens of millions, with seven figure annual tax revenue. Partners include local construction giant Hensel Phelps, several Colorado Rockies, led by our own Ryan Spilborghs, and a host of other businesspeople, athletes and people of influence,” the letter states.
“I’m appalled that the Weld Board of County County Commissioners suggested Windsor find a way to make up this $20 million dollar gap. Their lack of sensitivity to the urgency of the timeline and the current state of emergency everyone is facing is part of the issue. Even if Windsor is able to find an alternative avenue for funding resources, and we are looking, my fear is that it will come too little too late and our alternatives would give up valuable tax revenues.” Melendez adds, “Windsor plans and builds for long-term success, and Future Legends Sports Complex fits into this plan. Future Legends Sports Complex is seriously threatened if we can’t get Weld County to rethink this.”
Melendez urges Weld County residents concerned with the loss of this project to contact the Weld Board of County Commissioners immediately and ask them to change their stance on C-PACE financing for the Future Legends Sports Complex project. Information about contacting commissioners is online at https://www.weldgov.com/departments/commissioners.