Utah got its Christmas gift a little early this year. Last week, the United States Olympic Committee (USOC) announced it had selected Salt Lake City to bid on a future Winter Games, putting the capital city into the international competition to host another Winter Olympics, likely in 2030.
The announcement may not have come as a surprise to many. Several media outlets projected Salt Lake City would win the USOC bid over Denver, the remaining U.S. city after Reno-Tahoe dropped out last month, not because Utah campaigned better but rather because we’ve been planning for another Olympics since the 2002 games wrapped up.
If you were to visit the Utah Olympic Oval in Kearns or take a drive up to Park City and tour the Utah Olympic Park, as USOC members did weeks before making their pick, you would see that it’s as if the Olympics took place just yesterday. That’s because Utah has made it a priority to maintain our world-class winter sports facilities. Our ski jumps, bobsled and luge tracks and speed-skating oval have remained competition ready since 2002.
According to the Utah Olympic Legacy Foundation, the 2002 Olympic Winter Games produced a surplus of $163 million. The largest portion of the surplus, $76 million, was placed in an endowment for the Utah Athletic Foundation to maintain and operate our Olympic facilities. This smart planning has allowed Utah to host more than 150 international winter sports competitions, ranging from junior world cup events to world championships, since the Olympics wrapped up. And every year since, more than 1,100 international athletes from more than 30 countries have used Utah’s Olympic facilities for training or competition.
It’s not just our investment into our Olympic facilities that earned Utah the USOC’s pick. On top of our world-class winter sports venues, we also have superb infrastructure that can manage the thousands of visitors another Olympics would bring. Prior to 2002, we expanded our highways and built light rail. Since then we’ve expanded TRAX and FrontRunner, and now we’re in the process of building a new international airport.
Given Utah’s attractive economic standing, our investment into our Olympic facilities and transportation infrastructure, the depth of public support and the attachment to Olympism held by our community, there has never been a better time for Salt Lake City to host another Olympic Winter Games. The Salt Lake Chamber and Utah’s business community is fully engaged in presenting the best case for why Salt Lake City is still the right place.