Now that the United State Olympic Committee has selected Salt Lake as the site for a future Winter Olympics, Colin Hilton, head of the Olympic Legacy Foundation, says they can move ahead when the USOC is ready.
They’re prepping a budget of over a billion dollars. Hilton said that’s a lot less than a venue like Sochi, and it’s a spending plan that put athletes first.
Hilton said the budget for the Winter Games is projected at some $1.35 billion—and the only taxpayer dollars going into the Games are coming from the federal level.
“That actually all comes from funds outside of Utah or generated through ticket sales and sponsorships monies locally. That is one of the key messages that our small group of exploratory committee has been trying to get the word out. The only tax-payer funds would come from federal funds to pay for security. That was how it happened back in 2002 and that is the intent here. Most of the monies come from the International Olympic Committee through broadcast rights. Those amount to almost $600 million. Then there is additional ticket revenue that’s an additional $300 million.”
He said it is a break-even budget.
In 2002, Salt Lake organizers took pains to make sure that the Wasatch Front Canyons were not used in the event. Today, Hilton said, they’re not ruling anything out.
“If you look at the world championships coming up for freestyle and snowboard events, we’ve got an event over at Solitude. That is great to see. Nothing is ruled out of how we would look at locations for future competitions. We have a games concept that we outlined in a report that’s available at our website. Right now, too soon to say exactly what events will go where but we have a lot of willing partners. We checked in with each of the resort operators and the ice rink and multi-use facilities and everybody is so behind this.”
The 2002 Games resulted in the Utah Olympic Legacy Foundation, which was left with an endowment, and a mission to maintain use of the Olympic venues.
“The surplus that we had from the ’02 Games provided an investment portfolio, or an endowment, that allowed us to keep the facilities open and operating and maintain with investment earnings on that surplus. That is slowly eroding if you will. Some have predicted we would be out of money 20 years after the games and we’re not. A future Games would re-endow the surplus in the endowment fund and that is built into that budget that we’ve been talking about. To add an additional surplus to allow us to keep these facilities open in the future in perpetuity.”
The endowment left after 2002 was about $76 million. Hilton said the goal is to add $50 to $80 million from another Games.
He said the size of the endowment has eroded in the past 16 years.
“It’s down to $60 million actually and with the way the markets have been the last couple of months it’s down to the mid $50’s. It’s a little bit of anxiety when we see such fluctuations in the market. That for us is a good reason. Our hope is to not have tax payer funds help out Olympic facilities and so far that’s what we’ve been able to achieve and want to do going forward.”
Critics have worried about the growth impacts of another Olympics. But Hilton said he sees it as a chance for Park City and Salt Lake to enhance their community values.
“I think what this will allow is for us to focus on how we effectively bring people into town to host events or bring in for large happenings like Sundance. I think we’ll hone our ability to do major events and to move people in and out of town in a much better way. I think that’ll spur a lot of efforts like improving our mass transit and public transportation systems. Look at sustainable approaches as to how we actually put on a Games. To allow these games to be a focus for what is important to what is important to the local cities and regions that are hosts communities.”