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Weber County venue agreement is another puzzle piece in Utah’s 2030 Olympics bid

The cauldron from the 2002 winter games outside Rice-Eccles Stadium on the University of Utah campus, in Salt Lake City.
Sean Higgins
The cauldron from the 2002 winter games outside Rice-Eccles Stadium on the University of Utah campus, in Salt Lake City.

Eight years may seem like a long time, but in terms of planning for an Olympics, the clock is already ticking.

Utah will find out whether or not it will host the 2030 Winter Olympics next summer when the International Olympic Committee is expected to announce the event’s location at its general session. Although a potential second Utah Olympics is years away, work is already being done to secure host venues.

Weber County recently signed a venue use agreement with the Salt Lake City-Utah Committee for the Games to become an official host venue for either the 2030 or 2034 Olympics. Weber County hosted curling and alpine skiing events during the 2002 Games.

The committee started preparing a bid for a second Olympics in Utah even before the U.S. Olympic and Paralympic Committee officially backed the idea in 2018.

Committee CEO Fraser Bullock explained at June’s governing board meeting that venue agreements need to be in place before a host city is selected.

“It is kind of multi-dimensional,” he said. “[We have to] put the guarantees in place and negotiate the host city contract to get to the point where then the [IOC’s] executive board could recommend a particular city to the IOC general session, which will be at the end of May next year.”

Those agreements are discussed between local governments and the Host Venue Communities Committee, which is co-chaired by Salt Lake City Mayor Erin Mendenhall and Park City Mayor Nann Worel.

Mendenhall said those conversations had been focused on maximizing the long-term benefits of hosting another Olympics and minimizing negative impacts like out of control growth.

“That community benefit conversation will take different shapes based on the different communities,” said Mendenhall. “It will be led at the local level by the city governments and county governments, but will be in partnership with our Olympic organizing team here.”

A recent study by the University of Utah’s Kem C. Gardner Policy Institute said the state could see almost $4 billion in new economic output if it hosts another Olympics.

A 2017 poll by the organizing committee found that 89% of Utahns were in favor of another Olympics, but there have also been concerns about the Olympics returning. Some people in the greater Park City area, which hosted several different events in 2002, are worried the tourism generated by such a large event could overwhelm the community.

Utah is competing with Vancouver, Canada and Sapporo, Japan for the 2030 Games. If Utah is not selected next summer, the committee said it will target the 2034 Games.

Sean is KUER’s politics reporter.
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