Transforming a City into a Destination: Olympic City USA

July 31, 2020
Transforming a City into a Destination: Olympic City USA


July 31, 2020
Transforming a City into a Destination: Olympic City USA

Beginning in 2013, Gallagher & Associates’ strategic planning team worked together with the City of Colorado Springs and the U.S. Olympic & Paralympic Committee to envision a developmental master plan for the creation of the U.S. Olympic & Paralympic Museum. The project is an anchor for both Colorado and the U.S. Olympic & Paralympic Committee and a central reason why Colorado Springs is being named Olympic City USA.



The U.S. Olympic & Paralympic Museum is the first project dedicated entirely to capturing the rich history of Team USA’s performance in both the Olympic and Paralympic games. In order to ensure the success of this process, Gallagher Museum Services conducted the feasibility study, site selection, and business planning efforts for the Museum. Critically early in the life of the project, the feasibility phase sets the business foundation for the USOPM, defining the capital, financial, and operational aspects of the project.  

This project leads an economic engine for the entire region, what is headlined as “City of Champions”, designed to boost its $1.35 billion annual tourism industry by attracting over one million visitors annually  For Colorado Springs specifically, the new museum represents one of four projects comprising a $250.6 million redevelopment effort that will remake the fabric of the city—placing it squarely on the map as an international destination. 

Already the world is beginning to take note, in 2019, The New York Times’ “52 Places to Visit in 2020” named Colorado Springs the #13 destination, naming USOPM as a key driver for this designation.


Leadership from groundbreaking to post-opening

Building off the original master plan and feasibility work, GMS moved into an owner’s representative role to protect the museum’s interests throughout the development process. 

During design, construction, and fabrication, GMS performed as the trusted advisor to the Board of Trustees and the CEO in all oversight and management aspects of the project. Planning responsibilities included the following roles:

  • Co-selecting the mix of the project’s professional teams;
  • Negotiating design vendor contracts; 
  • Evaluating potential operating partners; 
  • Managing the day to day design and fabrication process;
  • Managing the onsite intersections between building, fabrication and media installation;
  • Developing the institutions capital structure and project’s capital budget;
  • Acting as Lead Advisor on the issuance of state’s first-ever Tourism Act bonds;
  • Managing project finance (i.e., balance sheet, operating statement, and cash flow)
  • Developing the operating model (i.e., revenue streams, staffing plan and department by department budgets)

GMS has been engaged at the c-suite level, providing outsourced services for Chief Operating Officer, V.P. of Guest Services & Operations, and Chief Financial Officer positions. Through these roles, GMS is providing strategy and day-to-day management of all aspects of project development, finance, and operations.  


Pandemic Adjustments 

At the onset of the international crisis imposed by COVID-19, GMS mobilized rapidly to pivot strategy in order to plan for a delayed opening. Such action required sourcing and negotiating additional debt financing to cover short-term capital needs, as well as operating scenario planning. To create a safe space for staff and visitors, the team developed a best-in-class health and safety plan to create a frictionless and contactless experience for guests, from ticketing to throughout the visitor experience. This new system has also been hailed by local health officials as “a look into the future of how events, large gatherings, and attractions can be held in the COVID-19 reality.”

Chris Liedel, the CEO of USOPM, shares: “the planning work that GMS has done for the U.S. Olympic & Paralympic Museum has been critical to our success. From the start, the entire team has been superb. Their strategic planning, leadership, and collaboration have provided a roadmap for the long-term sustainability of the Museum post-COVID-19. Together, we created new paradigms in an effective business strategy for museums leveraging the latest visual technologies.”


GMS Scope and Services

  • Feasibility Analysis & Strategic Master Planning
  • Owner’s Representation
  • Operations Management
  • Business Sustainability Consulting
  • Contactless Infrastructure Planning