Utah Olympic Park Waits Out Time Of Covid

Apr 15, 2020

Credit Utah Olympic Park

The head of the Utah Olympic Legacy Foundation says that the COVID-19 lockdown has left them with an uncertain budget year, and a serious dent in their expected summer revenues.

But Colin Hilton says he supported the County Health Department when it ordered the lockdown in March.    And he will support the county on whatever decision they make about reopening.  

Hilton told KPCW that the Utah Olympic Park was closed on March 13th.   Their other venues, Soldier Hollow in Wasatch County and the Olympic Skating Oval at Kearns, were closed on March 16th.

Hilton said the Olympic Park is now operating with just essential staff—no more than three people at a time—maintaining the buildings and the grounds.

But he said he has not furloughed any employees.    He said they’ve been able to get help from a loan approved by the Small Business Administration and the Paycheck Protection Plan (or PPP.)

“ My staff was absolutely terrific in getting on top of that.  And not only have we submitted our application, but we’ve actually received the funding back to us already.  (Leslie) Okay, well that was quick, then, huh?  (Hilton) It was.  The process was, as most of the other non-profits around town know, it was very challenging.  But once the lending institutions were able to get the required information that they would be asked by the SBA, it finally kicked in about Tuesday of last week.”

Under the PPP, the loan can be converted to a grant, and Hilton is hopeful they can do that.

He said he’s optimistic for the summer.  But they’re waiting on word from the Health Department.  He has told his staff not to plan for any activities until at least June, and even those could be limited.

Hilton said his budget year starts in May.       

“I gotta say it’s one of the strangest budget seasons, trying to forecast revenues and expenses in a timeframe when there’s so much uncertainty.  So we’re making appropriate prudent adjustments in those budgets.   But at this point we’re---we’ve developed so much good in what we’ve been looking to do with our Olympic Legacy story.  While we’ll make cuts, we’re not going to veer off our long-term goals and strategies.”

The Olympic Park normally gets a lot of summer visitors.    But Hilton envisions that their revenue this season will drop by over $2 million dollars.    He said that’s over a 50 percent drop in his expectations.

The Olympic Foundation’s investment in the stock market is also taking a hit.      

“Our investment portfolio has dropped somewhere in the neighborhood of $6-8 million in value, from about $53 million down to $46.  And our projected earnings off of the lower amount certainly will not allow for our normal typical year of activity levels.”

While they will make some adjustments in their operational spending, Hilton doesn’t foresee any capital projects being cut, since those are supported by state funding.

For the future, he said they will stay focused on their strategic goals—primarily being ready to host a Winter Olympics in 2030 or 2034.    

“We need to get our facilities up and ready for Olympic standards.  We set a goal of by 2027 to be Olympic-ready.   We also had a goal to double the number of our winter sport participants by 2030.  One of the most telling strategies we’ve put out there was to balance the need to be financially viable in perpetuity while promoting and prioritizing our mission.”

Colin Hilton, President of the Utah Olympic Legacy Foundation.