And then there were two. The Reno-Tahoe area has dropped out of consideration for the 2030 US Olympic bid, leaving just Salt Lake City and Denver. The USOC came to Salt Lake this week to tour facilities and meet with government officials.
Members of the US Olympic Committee along with the organization’s CEO, spokesperson and head of international bids all toured sites as they considered Utah as the US nomination for the 2030 Winter Olympics. Utah Olympic Legacy Foundation Director Colin Hilton reports the tour went very well.
“They came in to kind do a comparative assessment of Denver and Colorado’s facilities versus what we have here in Utah.” Hilton explained, “We toured venues down in Salt Lake and up here in Park City. They came away after the day very impressed. They enjoy seeing the vibrant uses that we have with these facilities and the show of unity of both the venue operators and the community government elected officials and the enthusiasm that they felt here in Utah.”
Park City Mayor Andy Beerman says the USOC and Utah representatives spoke about where the Olympics are headed.
“They’re really looking at rebooting their model.” Mayor Beerman said, “It’s struggled it’s been a financial impact on towns and I don’t think it’s worked as the tool they hoped it is. We talked a little bit about what our community values are and what their values are going forward, and I think they’re very well aligned. We’d like to see something that is more economically responsible and also athlete centric.”
The other city under consideration by the USOC for the 2030 bid is Denver. Hilton considers Salt Lake’s infrastructure from the 2002 Olympics an advantage.
“I think more important to them is seeing an existing facility that hosted the games continuing to not only have the doors open to these facilities but they’re actively and dynamically being used.” Hilton continued, “Especially with youth in them. Our healthy programs were what they were very much enjoying hearing about and hearing that these facilities aren’t just elite athlete training centers but are community recreation centers. In the case of the Olympic Park even a tourist destination as a way to keep the revenue streams keeping it open and available.”
Because of the success of Salt Lake’s facilities post-Olympics, KPCW asked if the USOC would be incentivized to provide more facilities for other locations, such as Denver.
“For certain facilities like ski jumps and speed skating ovals and bobsled tracks there is not enough in my opinion to warrant more of those facilities in multiple places around the country.” Hilton explained, “We have a great set-up with Lake Placid being a terrific location on the east coast and ours out on the west coast for a number of those facilities and right now I think more important is a look at the economics of hosting a games. The foolishness of how much money has been spent in other countries on new infrastructure. Really a new model of how to operate the games is what the USOC wants to present to the International Olympic Committee.”
Hilton concedes that Denver has done a wonderful job with events in Vail and Beaver Creek, but cited history as being on Utah’s side. Denver was awarded the 1976 Winter Olympics, but a statewide referendum saw voters turned the opportunity down after the games were awarded. Denver is the only location to turn down a games after they were awarded. As of right now there’s no plan to conduct a vote in Utah, but the USOC has plans to do its own poll of Colorado and Utah citizens.
“So, we remain very optimistic and again the USOC is looking for a partner as it evaluates how to propose and differentiate a U.S. bid comparatively to other countries in the future.” Hilton said, “We feel right now, we can provide what the Olympic movement really needs. A new approach, a more sustainable and cost-effective way to put on a games. We’re excited to be considered for that.”
Hilton says they expect to hear the USOC’s decision by mid-December.
The IOC’s decision about the 2026 Winter Olympic host city will come in June of 2019. Hilton says that the 2030 selection could also potentially come at that time. Another potential time for the announcement could be at the IOC’s 140th Session in 2023.