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Utah’s Future Olympic Bid Takes Shape With Public Support

Salt Lake 2030 Twitter

Utah is officially gearing up for another Olympic bid. Soon after the 2002 Games ended, Utah has been exploring the possibility of hosting again and those plans are finally starting to come into focus. 


The Salt Lake City - Utah Committee for the Games held their first governing board meeting on Wednesday to establish core principles and standards in preparation for a future Olympic bid.


Cindy Crane is chair of the committee and told reporters on Wednesday the exact games they’ll be targeting is still being decided. She says either 2030 or 2034 will be the bid and even though that date is a decade or more away, the groundwork needs to be in place now. 


“It’s not the sexy, fun stuff, but it’s the stuff that’s absolutely critically important to us to get nailed down and make sure we’re all on the same page moving forward together,” said Crane.


The 2028 Summer Games were awarded to Los Angeles in 2017. Salt Lake City was selected over Denver the following year as the American city for an unspecified future Winter Olympic bid by the United States Olympic and Paralympic Committee. 


The Salt Lake City committee will aid the USOPC in their decision on whether to target 2030 or 2034. Other cities who have expressed interest in bidding for future Winter Games include Sopporo, Japan, Barcelona and the Pyrenees region of Spain, and Vancouver, Canada.


Putting on an Olympics is a costly endeavor regardless of where it is hosted and Salt Lake City’s budget is no different. Accounting for inflation over the next 10 years, the costs of hosting a future Olympics in Utah is projected to be between $1.5-$2 billion. 


Working in Utah’s favor, however, is the fact the state has much of the infrastructure and venue needs already in place, many of which have remained in regular use since 2002.


For comparison, the 2014 Sochi Games cost Russia a staggering $51 billion. PyeongChang 2018 cost South Korea $13 billion. The 2002 Olympics cost Utah $2.5 billion.


The sheer amount of money needed to host an Olympics was enough to turn off the citizens of Innsbruck, Austria and Calgary, Canada, both of whom voted down proposals for 2026 Olympic bids through citizen referendums in 2017 and 2018. Innsbruck’s proposal even put their costs at just over $1 billion and their citizens still couldn’t be convinced.


Fraser Bullock is CEO of the Utah committee and said they wanted consensus in the state before moving the process forward. In two polls conducted in 2017 and 2019, and a third earlier this year, public support for another Olympic bid in Utah was well over 80%.


“We first of all want to be aligned with our citizens, our communities, that’s foundational,” Bullock said. “We are trying to be very sensitive to their concerns, as we were in 2002, and adjust our plans to accommodate the needs of our various communities. We feel that we’ve got, already, a very strong support behind us and we’re so grateful to that because it makes such a difference relative to other places in the world.”


Crane added an additional committee made up of host venue and community representatives will be looking at the local impacts of another Olympics. That committee is co-chaired by Salt Lake City Mayor Erin Mendenhall and Park City Mayor Andy Beerman. 


“You’re gonna start to see more of the evidence of the involvement on a broader scale through this process as that committee gets their structure implemented and up and going,” she said.


Park City has already put into motion anupdate to the city’s transportation master plan that includes tentative project lists for the next 10 years. According to the city, the updated plan will accommodate the needs of a potential future Olympics in the region.


The host city for the 2030 Games is scheduled to be announced by the International Olympic Committee in 2023. No date has been set yet for a 2034 announcement. 


The Utah committee’s next meeting is tentatively scheduled for sometime next month.

Sean Higgins covers all things Park City and is the Saturday Weekend Edition host at KPCW. Sean spent the first five years of his journalism career covering World Cup skiing for Ski Racing Media here in Utah and served as Senior Editor until January 2020. As Senior Editor, he managed the day-to-day news section of skiracing.com, as well as produced and hosted Ski Racing’s weekly podcast. During his tenure with Ski Racing Media, he was also a field reporter for NBC Sports, covering events in Europe.