Salt Lake City Targets 2030 Olympic Winter Games, Denver Considers 2026

Salt Lake City hosted the 2002 Olympic Winter Games
Salt Lake City hosted the 2002 Olympic Winter Games

Salt Lake City officials announced Monday that they intend to pursue a bid to host the 2030 Olympic Winter Games, leveraging the infrastructure and success of the 2002 edition of the Games that were held in the Utah Capital.

Fraser Bullock, former COO of the 2002 Games and current CEO of an exploratory committee organized to examine future Olympic options said hosting the 2030 Games would cost between USD $1.5 billion and $1.6 billion, a price that includes upgrades to existing venues.

A recent poll showed that an overwhelming 89 percent of Utahns would back another Winter Games and Governor Gary Herbert told reporters Monday that he believed it was time to host again.

“I think we’re best suited of any place in the world to host a winter games,” Herbert said.

“The fact we hosted the Winter Olympics in 2002 has been a great door-opener for us on international business.”

The committee will report to State leaders on February 1.

The United States Olympic Committee (USOC) said earlier this year that it was interested in pursuing either the 2026 or 2030 Winter Games, with an emphasis on 2030 because those Games occur after the Los Angeles 2028 that was awarded in September.  More recently, however, USOC Chief Scott Blackmun said his organization was “leaning more in the 2030 direction,” considering only 2026 if the International Olympic Committee (IOC) needed a city to step forward.

Currently Sion in Switzerland is the sole declared bidder for the 2026 race with Calgary, Canada seriously considering its options and seeking government approval to move forward.  Sapporo in Japan and Stockholm in Sweden are engaged in preliminary discussions with the IOC, both still lacking the government will to submit an application.

Meanwhile Denver has begun exploring its options to host a future Games.  The Colorado capital won a bid to host the 1976 Winter Games, but the event was later surrendered to Innsbruck after city voters rejected plans to finance the project, forcing its end.

Denver, however, is considering the possibility of hosting in 2026, meaning Los Angeles 2028 Olympic partners would have a say in its project.

An exploratory committee has been set up to determine if 2026 is feasible, and the group had better act quickly – applications for the 2026 Games are due into the IOC March 31, 2018.

Unlike Salt Lake City, Denver would require the construction of some key venues and costs could soar above the Utah estimates.  A 36-member committee chaired by Rob Cohen of the IMA Financial Group has been organized by Denver Mayor Michael Hancock.

Valais residents will head to the polls June 10 to decide if Sion 2026 Olympic Bid moves forward (Sion 2026 Photo)
Valais residents will head to the polls June 10 to decide if Sion 2026 Olympic Bid moves forward (Sion 2026 Photo)

Along with Salt Lake City and Denver, a group from Reno-Tahoe has also been in talks with the IOC regarding an Olympic bid, USOC sources have confirmed.

The USOC has also discussed the possibility that the IOC could elect both the 2026 and 2030 host cities in a double-allocation, just as they did when Paris 2024 and LA 2028 were given the Games in September as the only two remaining candidates in a 2024 race.  If that happens, any 2030 prospect would need plans to be ready in 2018.

Bids that have been engaged in discussions with the IOC have been invited to send delegates to an observers’ program at the PyeongChang 2018 Games to be held in February, and the Paralympics in March.

A senior producer and award-winning journalist covering Olympic bid business as founder of as well as providing freelance support for print and Web publications around the world. Robert Livingstone is a member of the Olympic Journalists Association and the International Society of Olympic Historians.

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