Salt Lake City Or Denver Could Be Nominated Friday For Winter Olympics Bid

Salt Lake City in Utah or Denver in Colorado could be named Friday as the United States’ next Winter Olympics bid city.  The United States Olympic Committee (USOC) will discuss the two cities at its Board of Directors meeting to be held in San Francisco starting Thursday.

Rice-Eccles Stadium and 2002 Olympic Cauldron in Salt Lake City

Rice-Eccles Stadium and 2002 Olympic Cauldron in Salt Lake City. SLC 2002 generated an operational surplus of over USD $50 million.

An announcement of the nominated city is expected Friday (December 14) afternoon.

The Utah capital is a heavy favorite to get the nod.

Organizers say the rich legacy left from the 2002 Games is in place and ready for another run – almost immediately.  The state governor and city council have already backed the project and a recent poll revealed as many as 89 percent of Utahns want the Games to return.

The bid promises a balanced USD $1.4 billion budget, with the possibility of a surplus, because it will not need to build any new permanent venues.  The project will be funded privately.

Denver, meanwhile, carries the stigma of having been the only Olympic bid winner to later reject the Games after taxpayers voted down a bond issue to finance the Games.  Opponents of the new project are demanding a state-wide referendum on new bid plans, to be held at a future date.

That risk should be enough for the USOC to reject Colorado’s plans, or at least serve as a reminder that ties had to be cut with the nominated Boston 2024 Summer Games bid when it was discovered there was little public support for project.

Denver has proposed a regional Games concept in order to minimize the costs and risks, and has suggested some events be held in rival Salt Lake City’s own backyard or as far as Calgary in Canada.  The plans remain undefined, and far behind what is being offered in Utah.

A third bid from Reno-Tahoe had also been invited to participate in the process but the group behind the project dropped out last month indicating the timing wasn’t right for a successful campaign.  The cities had been involved in dialogue with the USOC for the past several years waiting for a Winter Olympic bid campaign to begin.

Last year Los Angeles was elected by the International Olympic Committee (IOC) to host the 2028 Summer Games, a priority for the USOC, which subsequently opened the door for a U.S. Winter Games bid.

The USOC submitted a letter of intent last April with the IOC to bid for the 2030 Winter Games even as applicants for 2026 edition were still being filed by the seven cities entering that race.

But the USOC’s announcement in October that it would launch a shortened domestic selection process and declare a winner by the end of the year came as a surprise to many observers.  The IOC is not expected to elect the 2030 host city until 2023.

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

According to organizers of the two bids in the process, the USOC has yet to confirm any specific future timelines for the selected city – and has yet to identify the desired hosting year.  But published minutes from the previous Board of Directors meeting indicate interest for a “future Games” that could include 2030, or even 2026.

Five of seven applicants for the 2026 Games have already exited the race, and the remaining two contenders – Stockholm in Sweden and Milan-Cortina d’Ampezzo in Italy – have yet to secure the necessary guarantees needed to continue with their bids.

Though the USOC has officially denied any interest in filling a possible gap if no other 2026 cities are left in the race, there is wide speculation that Salt Lake City could be available to step in if called upon.  The hastened domestic process makes that option possible.

The IOC will elect the 2026 host city in June.

Robert Livingstone

About Robert Livingstone

Robert Livingstone is a senior editor, award-nominated 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

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