Will the Winter Olympics take place in Colorado in the next 12 years?
“Yes,” said Steve McConahey, chief of finance for the Denver Olympic Exploratory Committee. “Well, I hope so.”
McConahey was one of a trio of Olympics proponents who briefed the gathering of local leaders on the progress and process of a Denver Olympic bid for either the 2026 or 2030 Winter Olympics, reported the Aspen Times.
The meeting was the last of six scheduled with mountain communities that could play a part in Colorado’s Olympics. Committee members previously met with leaders in Breckenridge, Frisco, Georgetown, Vail and Winter Park.
Steamboat was a late add to that schedule, but Wednesday produced a room full of passionate people, and after McConaney and crew shared their vision, those attendees were given a chance to share their thoughts, hopes, and concerns about the town’s potential Olympic moment. The potential for new facilities, the large ski jumps at Howelsen Hill would need to be completely reconstructed, would be tantalizing.
They said the idea that the Olympics are a multi-billion dollar waste of money is only as prevalent as it is because recent hosts like Sochi, Russia, for the Winter Olympics 2014 included big-budget infrastructure projects that the Colorado bid won’t tackle. Focus instead, the speakers insisted, on the 2002 Olympics in Salt Lake City and the 2010 Olympics in Vancouver, British Columbia, which they say turned a profit and created lasting venues.
And about that mess of a 1976 bid, the one awarded to Denver before being voted down by the public four years before Opening Ceremonies? McConaney said Denver in particular and Colorado as a whole are far different than they were then, with much-improved infrastructure and a much greater ability to handle such an event.
“We’re in a different place than we were last time,” McConaney said. “We want to showcase our state. We’re proud of who we are. We have the heritage, the facilities, the know-how. I guess the question is, why not? We think we provide an exciting alternative to Salt Lake.”
The next step is for a report from meetings like Wednesday’s to go to the exploratory committee later this month. From there, the committee will decide whether or not to make a recommendation to Gov. John Hickenlooper and Denver Mayor Michael Hancock.
From there, the United States Olympic Committee will decide with of what will likely be three bids to select, Salt Lake City, Reno/Lake Tahoe, and Denver.
That will take place by the fall, and the International Olympic Committee will make its selection next year for at least the 2026 Games.