Salt Lake City says budget works out to host Olympics again

FILE - Fireworks light up near the Olympic flame during the closing ceremony of the XIX Winter Olympics in Salt Lake City, Sunday, Feb. 24, 2002. (AP Photo/Elise Amendola)

SALT LAKE CITY (AP) — Salt Lake City would be able to host the Winter Olympics again without losing money thanks to existing venues and the expertise of a team that put on the 2002 Winter Olympics in the city, an exploratory committee said Monday.

The budget estimate unveiled at the committee’s third meeting puts Utah one step closer to pursuing a bid for the 2030 Winter Olympics, while being open to the remote possibility of hosting the 2026 Olympic Games.

The committee — made up of elected officials, business leaders and people who worked on the 2002 Winter Olympics — will take a formal vote next month on whether to move forward with the bid.

The committee’s budget team estimated it would cost $1.29 billion to host another Winter Olympics. Estimated revenues of about $1.35 billion would leave a surplus, the committee said.

Those figures are in 2018 dollars and would go up with inflation, but committee said that the revenue surplus would hold. They don’t include security costs that would be covered by the U.S. government and spectator transportation, which in 2002 was paid for by federal and state governments.

“Every indication we have right now is positive,” said Fraser Bullock, co-chairman of the committee. “It’s just sorting the dynamics of the U.S. Olympic Committee relative to 2030 and 2026, that’s the issue.”

The USOC has until next March to pick a city for 2026, though chief executive Scott Blackmun said recently that officials believe the 2030 Winter Olympics are more realistic.

Bullock urged the committee to have its full, detailed report ready by March to show the USOC that Salt Lake City is ready and to be prepared in case the International Olympic Committee awards the 2026 and 2030 games at the same time in 2019.

That’s what the IOC did in September for the first time ever, awarding the 2024 Summer Olympics to Paris and the 2028 Summer Olympics to Los Angeles.

The 2030 Olympics would normally be awarded in 2023.

Denver and Reno, Nevada, have also expressed interest in the U.S.

Denver, which famously rejected an offer to host the 1976 Winter Olympics, has assembled a committee to take a tough-minded look at whether the city should pursue a bid for another Olympics.

Internationally, cities considering making a bid include Sion, Switzerland; Calgary, Canada; Stockholm, Sweden; and Sapporo, Japan.

Ideally, a European city would host in 2026 and a U.S. city in 2030, Bullock said.

Salt Lake City’s pitch would be centered on being able to host the Olympics for less money than other cities by using existing venues. Some venues need improvements and refurbishing, but officials say they wouldn’t have to build anything from scratch.

The committee said Monday it also learned from hosting in 2002 and has identified many areas where it could be more efficient to save money and trim down the budget.

The committee also said it’s already begun thinking about a theme for the game that would ensure the 2030 games aren’t just a rehash of the 2002 games. Members know that cities that haven’t hosted the Olympics, such as Denver and Reno, would bring the cachet of being new and different.

“But shiny and new costs about $500 million dollars,” Bullock said in reference to the additional costs those cities would have to build venues. “Where does that money come from?”

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