SALT LAKE CITY (ABC4 UTAH NEWS) - Utah is "ready, willing and able" to host the Winter Olympic Games again in either 2026 or 2030 according to members of the Olympic Bid Exploratory Committee.
During a news conference Thursday at Rice-Eccles Stadium, site of the Opening and Closing Ceremonies of the successful 2002 Winter Games, political and business leaders said they're preparing to possibly host another Olympics in 8 and a half or 12 and a half years, before or after the 2028 Summer Games in Los Angeles.
Fraser Bullock was the COO of the 2002 Salt Lake City Winter Games.
"Even if we were focused mostly on 2030, we have to be in the process for '26 in case there is a dual award," Bullock said. "'30 is probably a little more comfortable for L.A. because we come after them. We have our own marketing period. '26 would be a little more challenging."
Bullock estimates the budget for the games to be about $1.6 billion. A recent audit found that the 2002 venues need $40 million in upgrades to host again. These leaders say it's worth it.
"The result of the last Winter Olympics is amazing," Senator Wayne Niederhauser, President of the Utah Senate, said. "Look what it did for Utah. We are the place of winter sports. 60 percent of the Olympians train here in Utah and we can do this again and do it well."
Speedskater Derek Parra won Gold & Silver Medals at the 2002 Games.
"I moved here after the Games," Parra told ABC4 Utah News. "It's just an incredible event. I love the spirit that's still here from the Games. I would love it if the youth around the communities here in Salt Lake can experience that like I did."
Of course an important part of any Olympics is corporate sponsorships and advertisers and the topic of soft drinks came up Thursday.
"I would love to take that Pepsi challenge with any of these other cities and tell me who's in a better place," Representative Greg Hughes said.
Bullock quickly corrected him. "One of the things you learn during the Olympics is sponsors," Bullock said. "That would be a Coke challenge rather than a Pepsi challenge."
Jeff Robbins of the Utah Sports Commission had the final word.
"It's usually Red Bull not Pepsi or Coke," Robbins said causing laughter.
For the record, the drinks served at the news conference...were Pepsi products.
The deadlines are approaching fast. The Exploratory Committee needs to have their report ready by February 1st, 2018 and the U.S. Olympic Committee announces which city, if any, they'll nominate on March 31st.
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