Marihuana Taxes Funding Aurora’s $ 41.9 million Rec Heart


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Wonder where the marijuana tax money is going? In Aurora, recreational cannabis sales support a new public leisure center.

The 62,000-square-foot recreation center, currently under construction on 25400 East Alexander Drive in southeast Aurora, is expected to cost $ 41.9 million, according to the city’s parks, recreation and open spaces department.

The project is expected to be completed in early 2023. Amenities include a 20,000-square-foot field house, indoor pool and waterslide, indoor basketball court and running track, 1,000-square-foot fitness center, group exercise rooms, and multi-purpose and party rooms.

Mayor Mike Coffman, members of Aurora City Council, city officials and project developers laid the foundation stone for the site on February 18th. At the small ceremony (COVID, do you remember?) Coffman called it an “extraordinary” building that will not only be a recreational center, “but really a community center for all people to enjoy.”

The building will be Aurora’s sixth public recreation center and the second to be funded by marijuana tax revenue. A facility opened in central Aurora in 2019, funded with $ 34 million in marijuana sales taxes. The city donated an additional $ 2 million in marijuana tax revenue to bring the Aurora Southwest Recreation Center up to date. In 2017, the city used $ 900,000 pot revenue to turn an old Aurora Police Department gym into a daily resource center for the homeless.

The new center will be built on 600 acres of land acquired by the federal government in 1984 for parks and rec purposes, west of the Aurora Reservoir and south of the Arapahoe County’s fairgrounds. Coffman credited the residents of Ward VI, represented by Councilor Françoise Bergan, with pointing out the need for a new recreation center in their neighborhood. “The voters in southeast Aurora really took up the challenge and sent emails to the entire city council,” said Bergan at the groundbreaking ceremony.

Aurora’s 23 recreational pharmacies were responsible for generating approximately $ 14.8 million in marijuana tax revenue in 2020, according to the city’s finance department. That’s a 24 percent increase from 2019, in part due to a 1 percent increase in local marijuana sales tax approved by Aurora City Council last April. Since Aurora began selling marijuana in 2015, the city has generated $ 54.4 million in tax revenue, the department said.

That total won’t grow until 2021, and the supply of retail pots is now being supplemented: Aurora is currently the only community in Colorado with pharmacies that allow the delivery of recreational pots. One company is already licensed by the state and several others are awaiting approval. According to the city’s Marijuana Enforcement Division, the only Aurora pharmacy with a recreational permit from the state of Colorado Harvest Company has not yet applied for a local permit. But it will be.

In the meantime, you can see where Aurora marijuana taxes are going in the photos below:

A recent shot of the 600 acres in southeast Aurora where the recreation center is being built.EXPAND

A recent shot of the 600 acres in southeast Aurora where the recreation center is being built.


A rendering of the future reception center.EXPAND

A rendering of the future reception center.

City of Aurora

The future recreation center.EXPAND

The future recreation center.

City of Aurora

A rendering of the reception center.EXPAND

A rendering of the reception center.

City of Aurora

Populous designs the recreation center.EXPAND

Populous designs the recreation center.

City of Aurora

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Thomas Mitchell has been writing about everything cannabis-related for Westword since 2014, covering sports, real estate, and general news en route to publications such as the Republic of Arizona, Inman, and Fox Sports. He is currently the cannabis editor for

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