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Utah’s 2002 Olympic venues need money, another Games

Many training facilities at Utah Olympic Park can generate revenue during the summer, like the ski jumps which offer tubing.
Connor Thomas
Many training facilities at Utah Olympic Park can generate revenue during the summer, like the ski jumps which offer tubing.

Utah Olympic Park and other 2002 Olympic venues have always operated at a deficit, and now that deficit is increasing.

The Utah Olympic Legacy Foundation went before the Summit County Council for a routine renewal of the Utah Olympic Park’s contract Wednesday.

The nonprofit’s president and CEO, Colin Hilton, added a plea: Utah’s old Olympic venues need help.

“Financially, we're struggling,” he said.

The foundation subsidizes the losses at its venues with its Legacy Fund, which Hilton said is valued at $46 million. However, economic pressures have drained the fund at a faster rate in recent years.

“Our financial position is worse given all the inflationary pressures, payroll insurance, energy costs,” Hilton told the council.

Those three factors mean the Legacy Fund is bleeding $4 million every year.

Hilton told the council Utah Olympic Park is putting together applications with county planners for new uses and activities that could bring in some much-needed cash. Those applications would go before the Snyderville Basin Planning Commission.

“More than ever, we do need some of the revenue-generating land lease elements to help us financially to bridge this gap until we have another Games re-endow the foundation,” Hilton said.

He told KPCW the UOP is exploring new projects in five areas: new training and competition facilities, lodging facilities, sports medicine facilities, education and office facilities, and public recreation.

Hilton is clear that, for the venues to be self-sustaining, they need new activities and another Olympic Games—not one or the other. Salt Lake City is bidding for a 2030 or 2034 Games, and the city’s organizing committee has signaled it would prefer 2034.

The UOP has already expanded the activities it offers since 2002. For example, it’s built the 72-unit UOP Residences affordable housing project and expanded freestyle and alpine skiing facilities in the past 10 years.

It also renovated its freestyle pool and sliding track refrigeration system.

“The community can always help us by engaging in our programs and activities offered or to support our fundraising efforts,” Hilton said after the county council meeting.

The Utah Olympic Legacy Foundation also manages the Utah Olympic Oval in the West Valley area and Soldier Hollow Nordic Center near Midway.

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