Utah has Olympic fever again. Business and political leaders on Utah’s Olympic/Paralympic Exploratory Committee unanimously agreed Wednesday to move forward with a bid to host the Winter Games again.
“We are in a great, tremendous position to host the Winter Olympics again,” said Gov. Gary Herbert. “We did it once. We can certainly do it twice.”
Herbert then ceremoniously signed a resolution passed by lawmakers urging another Olympic bid.
“Everybody loved the 2002 games, everybody wants to do them again,” said Fraser Bullock, who was COO of Salt Lake’s organizing committee for the 2002 Olympic Games.
Utah leaders are more focused on snagging 2030, saying Los Angeles, which is slated to host the 2028 Summer Olympics, holds all sponsorship rights until then, which might make a 2026 bid difficult.
The U.S. Olympic Committee (USOC) will pick its candidate for the 2026 Games by the end of next month, when it may also choose the 2030 candidate city. The IOC will award the 2026 Winter Olympics in September 2019.
A report shows hosting another Winter Games would cost the state about $1.3 billion. But that’s a lot cheaper than it would be, said Salt Lake City Mayor Jackie Biskupski, since Utah’s Olympic venues from 2002 are still in good shape.
“If you were a community that didn’t have infrastructure in place like we do, you’re talking another half-billion dollars to that price tag,” she said.
“We stand ready, willing, and able to do this,” said Biskupski, repeating a phrase often used by members of the exploratory committee.
This year, lawmakers are considering funding to upgrade some of Utah’s Olympic venues. Gov. Herbert has recommended $5.9 million for improvements.
Officials in Denver and the Reno-Tahoe area are reportedly also exploring Winter Olympic bids for 2026. But Utah officials believe they have a leg up.
“We have everything we need to go forward,” Bullock said. “We have the team, we have the great people of Utah, we have the infrastructure. How could anybody else compete with us?”
Bullock is leading a Utah delegation to the Winter Games beginning Friday in Pyeonchang, South Korea. He says that’s where he’ll convey to the USOC Utah’s enthusiasm to host another Olympics.
Polling shows strong support for another Olympic bid. A poll Dan Jones & Associates poll from November showed 89 percent of Utahns surveyed supported hosting another round of Winter Games.