USOC Tours Facilities In Denver, Salt Lake City Ahead Of Selection Of Winter Olympic Bid City In December

A United States Olympic Committee (USOC) evaluation team traveled to Denver, Colorado Tuesday and Salt Lake City, Utah on Wednesday to inspect venues proposed for a future Olympic bid by the U.S.

The USOC tours the Utah Olympic Oval with members of the Salt Lake City Olympic Winter Games Bid (Twitter/SLC2030)

The USOC toured the Utah Olympic Oval with members of the Salt Lake City Olympic Winter Games Bid (Twitter/SLC2030)

Both cities have entered a brief race to win the national nomination to bid for a future Winter Olympics.  The winner will be chosen in December.

A third project from Reno-Tahoe had been invited to participate but officials withdrew it on Monday explaining that their bid couldn’t compete under the current conditions.

Both competing cities have won Olympic bids before – Salt Lake City went on to host the 2002 Winter Games while Denver voters rejected the 1976 Olympics after they had already been awarded the event.

The USOC delegation included CEO Sarah Hirshland along with USOC Chair Larry Probst, Chief External Affairs Officer Patrick Sandusky and board member Suzanne Lyons.

Business leaders in Colorado formed an exploratory committee last year to examine plans for a privately funded Denver Games.  Still requiring government approval, plans could face a state-wide referendum in 2020 or 2021.

Organizers believe the Games could be held for a cost of about USD $2 billion.

Last year a poll taken across Utah revealed 89 percent support a new Salt Lake City Olympic bid.  A feasibility study was conducted and the State governor backed the project.

With most 2002 venues well-maintained and ready for use, the study suggested a Games could cost as low as USD $1.29 billion without having to build new facilities or infrastructure.

According to the Salt Lake Tribune, Hirshland said “We are thrilled that you’ve chosen to continue this process, and to consider hosting an Olympic Games again.”

“It is not lost on us that that is not a given, and it is a huge sacrifice from a community, so thank you for willingness to not only do it once again, but to consider doing it yet again.”

The delegation made 10 stops in Utah over 12 hours, examining venues that were primarily built for the 2002 Games.

“We believe you’re uniquely positioned to deliver a sustainable Games, a fiscally-responsible Games and also a Games that’s focused on the experience for the athletes, which at the end of the day is the single-most important thing,” Hirshland said.

“It’s the reason we’re here.”

Officially the USOC is looking to bid for the 2030 Games, a letter of interest has already been submitted to the International Olympic Committee (IOC) in April this year.  But internal memos have suggested that a 2026 bid is also under consideration, even though the application deadline for that process has long expired.

On Tuesday voters in Calgary, Canada rejected their city’s 2026 bid, and projects from Italy and Sweden are struggling to secure government guarantees ahead of a January 11 deadline.  If they fail, the IOC could be left with no candidates in that race.

A U.S.-based bid, having been nominated in December, could be ready to negotiate with the IOC to fill the hosting gap.

The USOC had originally abstained from entering the 2026 race after Los Angeles was awarded the 2028 Summer Games last year.  LA was granted exclusive franchise rights and access to domestic sponsorship revenue streams that could be impaired if a U.S. Winter Games were held two years prior.

But under exceptional circumstances, compromises could be made.

The IOC will elect a 2026 host city next June.  The 2030 host will be chosen in 2023.

Robert Livingstone

About Robert Livingstone

Robert Livingstone is a senior editor, award-winning journalist and author, covering Olympic bid business as founder of GamesBids.com as well as providing freelance support for print and Web publications around the world. He is a member of the Olympic Journalists Association and the International Society of Olympic Historians. Follow him @enotsgnivil