Phil Anschutz buys Broadmoor, vows not to make these changes

In his spare time, billionaire Philip Anschutz likes to collect interesting bits of Americana, such as cattle ranches, soccer teams, railroads and media and energy companies. As part of his acquisition of the Oklahoma Publishing Company, he's also picking up the Broadmoor Hotel in Colorado Springs -- a nice chunk of real estate by anyone's standards.

Terms of the sale haven't been disclosed; figure the cost at somewhere between a nice, juicy stake in the Los Angeles Lakers and the net worth of (The deal also includes The Oklahoman newspaper, the Manitou and Pikes Peak Railway, some valuable water rights and art, an aviation company, a broadband company, and much, much more.) According to this report in the Denver Business Journal, Anschutz isn't planning any major changes in the operations of the storied 744-room hotel, which has had only three owners in nearly a century and ranks as the state's most celebrated five-star resort.

We think he's missing a bet here. Or several bets, given the Broadmoor's early history as a casino. Think of the branding and cross-marketing possibilities for a mogul involved in as many industries as Anschutz. Sprawling on 3000 acres beneath majestic Cheyenne Mountain, the Broadmoor is ripe for a theme-park conversion. Now, we're just brainstorming at this point, but Phil, here's some ideas to get the ball rolling:

1. Narnialand: The Sequel to the Sequels to the Chronicles of You Know. While The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, Prince Caspian and whatever that third movie was that nobody saw play in constant rotation in the Broadmoor's own movie theater, we buy up the Cheyenne Mountain Zoo and stuff it full of animatronic talking lions, beavers, mice and so on. Exit through the gift shop, of course.

2. Frack: A Tasting Bar. Nothing is hotter than designer water, and nothing is more exotic than the blends of Rocky Mountain groundwater and proprietary "seasonings" found in the hydraulic fracturing fluids used to extract oil and gas from tight, deep shale formations. Clear out that fabled collection of fancy wine bottles assembled by Spencer Penrose and start offering the Broadmoor's sophisticated clientele a taste of the real West.

3. IPO Hold'em. A simple referendum could permit the resort to qualify for limited-stakes gambling as a "historic mountain town," and then it's simply a matter of raising the limit to a few million bucks for every spin of the wheel, with players hedging their bets on new public companies by wrangling special deals from investment bankers. It's fun, fun, fun for investors of all ages, as long as they're at least 21.

4. The Choo-Choo to Tomorrow. Wholesome family entertainment! We install a miniature train route around the lake, run fiber optic cables along the right-of-way, and then set up gaming and wi-fi and 3D avatars all along the route. But -- get this -- no porn.

5. The Foundation for Right is Right. Inspired by the male dancer depicted in the art on the main mezzanine (the one with two right feet), a redesign of the entire resort presents guests with nothing but right turns and pervasive homilies on how to be a more moral and responsible person, including many delivered live or by streaming video from Kobe Bryant and other major sports figures. Except on the golf course, which we leave as is.

Think it over, Phil. We have some suggestions for revamping the Sunday brunch, too, if you're interested.

More from our Business archive: "Phil Anschutz stays silent through a Forbes feature -- but it says plenty, anyway."

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Alan Prendergast has been writing for Westword for over thirty years. He teaches journalism at Colorado College; his stories about the justice system, historic crimes, high-security prisons and death by misadventure have won numerous awards and appeared in a wide range of magazines and anthologies.
Contact: Alan Prendergast