A Golden Opportunity?: Weighing Another Olympic Bid for Utah

SALT LAKE CITY, Utah (News4Utah) – Could Utah get another Winter games in 2030? The deadline for submissions was Thursday, February 1. So, would hosting the Olympics again, 28 years later, be a good thing for most Utahns?

Like any business proposal it comes down to the costs versus the benefits and like we saw in 2002, those benefits go beyond numbers on a balance sheet.

Sixteen years ago, Utah hosted one of the most successful and profitable Olympics ever - finishing with a $160 million surplus.

For the past several months many of those same organizers have served on a committee looking into hosting the world again in 2030.

“It's just a natural to play off our success before where we really got the experience and we have all the facilities being actively used since then,” said Spence Eccles with the Olympic Exploratory Committee. “Now here's an opportunity to do it that would be helpful to the state, helpful to the youth of the state, helpful to the economics of the state and certainly to the reputation of the state of Utah and Salt Lake City.”

Staging another Olympics won’t be cheap.

“I think a billion 353 is what we're thinking here for our first budget.”

Another estimate was $1.6 billion with a chunk of it, maybe hundreds of millions, coming from taxpayer money.

The Vice President of the Utah Taxpayers Association says he'll keep an eye on how those public funds are spent.

“We want to make sure the money being collected things is being spent on things that benefit the general public so if it’s going to be on venues or roads or some different types of infrastructure, communication needs we might have. These are all going to be things that benefit the taxpayer in some way so we want to make sure that's where the money is going, not necessarily focused on spending it on throwing big parties or corporate recruitment or things like that,” said Hesterman.

Chief Operating Officer of the 2002 Games and Co-Chairman of the Utah Olympic Exploratory Committee Fraser Bullock says it's a worthwhile investment.

“Last time the Olympics generated over $5 billion of economic activity for the state. This time the estimates are it's over $6 billion,” said Bullock. "The Olympics do have a trickle down economic effect. It's called the multiplier effect because we're building new things, we're adding new things and every time somebody spends a dollar it goes into the economy and can have a widespread effect that impacts really everybody."

“Bringing back the Olympics will just boost the economy. It increases business. It increases people. It increases awareness. People will come here. As the average Joe it's only going to do well for his business or if it's at his job it's going to bring more value to his position and his job because the people that are going to come. People are going to see Utah as the place to be,” said Noelle Pikus-Pace, 2014 Silver medalist.

Jeff Robbins, CEO of the Utah Sports Commission, says the '02 games delivered hundreds of millions of dollars in tourism, brand awareness and promotion for the state, adding that Utah has hosted over 700 major sporting events since then.

“If it can be another piece of our economy that helps drive jobs, helps drive security, helps drive wages and certainly if the Olympics came back it would be all of those,” said Robbins. “So to the average person even if they're not a fan to do something that might drive a stable economy, help you with your jobs, bring more opportunity, that's probably not a bad thing at least we hope.”

A recent poll shows that 89 percent of Utahns surveyed want to host the Winter Games again.

“I think the Olympics unified our state in such a unique way and showcased our wonderful state and its people to the entire world. Now by 2030 it will have been 28 years. We'll have a new generation of people that could experience the Olympics. We could refamiliarize the world with this great state of Utah. It's time to do it again,” said Bullock.

The members of the Utah Olympic Exploratory Committee are heading to South Korea next week to attend the Pyeongchng Olympics and meet with the U.S. Olympic Committee which now has until March 31 to decide which city, if any, they’ll pitch to the International Olympic Committee for 2030.


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