Construction starts on Olympic Museum in Colorado Springs

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COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (KKTV) - The Olympic City is making history.

After nearly five years of preparation, crews are breaking ground to build an Olympic Museum and Hall of Fame -- the first of its kind in the United States.

The uniquely designed building will be located on the south side of downtown Colorado Springs near Vermijo Avenue and Sierra Street. It's expected to be 60,000 square feet filled with interactive exhibits that take the public into the life of an Olympic and Paralympic athlete.

Chairman of the Olympic Museum Board, Richard Celeste, tells 11 News the museum will give visitors a chance to "develop a great appreciation" for the athletes.

"From the gleam in their eye, from the inspiration, from the support they get from parents and coaches, and then national governing bodies to the Olympic competitions themselves ... We'll be able to train like an Olympian, we'll be able to understand the science and technology behind their competitions," Celeste said.

For the past four-and-a-half years, museum committees and crews have worked to prepare the construction site, finalize building plans and raise funds. Now that all the utilities are in the ground, they can start actually building the museum.

Of course an attraction like this one does not come cheap. Celeste says they have raised $75 million, two-thirds of which he says is private money from Colorado Springs and El Paso County. The rest of the money is from the City for Champions fund. Celeste says on top of that, the construction site was also donated.

Celeste says there's been a lot of support for the "Olympic movement."

"It's a sign of pride in the community and it's also ambition about the future that we want to live the community up."

Leah Murphy works up the street from the future museum -- she says the expansions downtown are great for the community.

"I'm really excited. There's so many great things happening in Colorado Springs right now and we just want to keep more people coming to us and have fun things to do," Murphy said.

More people is definitely something this museum will bring. Celeste tells 11 News it could bring in up to 400,000 extra visitors every year which will stimulate other kinds of development in the city.

"I think we're going to bring housing, mixed youth development, retail. This street -- Vermijo -- will turn into a kind of boulevard, parking will move off, it will be very pedestrian friendly."

That's something Murphy says she's looking forward to.

"We're getting a lot of people coming to visit from all over the place so I think it's going to be great."

The groundbreaking ceremony kicks off at 10 a.m. on Friday.

Workers with the Museum say they expect the grand opening by summer 2019.