The group considering whether Salt Lake City should bid to host another Winter Olympics issued a report on Thursday recommending the capital city vie for the 2026 Olympics if the United States Olympic Committee decides to pursue those Games.
The Utah Olympic Exploratory Committee report indicates the Park City area would play a significant role in another bid, as was the case when Salt Lake City was awarded the 2002 Winter Olympics.
That had been expected since the committee began its work in February, the tenth anniversary of the Winter Olympics. But the report offers an early look at what sort of local ideas organizers could consider later if a bid is mounted. The most dramatic change could be adding Canyons as an athletic venue.
The Park City area -- stretching from the Utah Olympic Park in the Snyderville Basin to Soldier Hollow in Wasatch County -- hosted upward of 50 percent of the athletic events in 2002. Park City Mountain Resort, Deer Valley Resort and the Utah Olympic Park were important venues. Canyons did not host competitions, but it enjoyed the Olympic publicity nonetheless as a broadcast hub.
The report mentions Canyons in a section outlining sport and venues. It does not provide details. The reference to Canyons appears in a paragraph discussing the Park City venues. It says events that have been added to the Olympic schedule in the years since 2002 "are regularly hosted at the existing venues in Park City." The events include the skiercross, the boardercross and slopestyle snowboarding.
"These new events would be well hosted at the Park City area venues," the report says.
The managing director of Canyons, Mike Goar, said in a February interview the resort would be interested in talks with organizers if another Olympics is sought. He said then Canyons could be involved "if there was a logical role for us to take."
The report, meanwhile, says officials from the venues in 2002 told the group they were "enthusiastic about the possibility of again hosting the Olympic Games at their venue." It also says expansions or improvements planned at the venues would not prohibit them from hosting events in another Olympics.
"A venues master plan for a future bid would be able to use all of the existing competition and training venues from the 2002 Games, along with options to expand selected venue sites to provide a more compact physical concept," the report says.
In an interview after the report was released, Mayor Dana Williams said Park City will want to have a role in the discussions about a 2026 bid. He said Parkites generally see the 2002 Olympics as having been worthwhile for the community.
"If they're considering it, we would certainly want to be a pretty integral part of it. We know where the alpine heart was," Williams said.
Park City Councilman Andy Beerman, one of the officials who monitored the work of the exploratory committee on behalf of City Hall, said it was "exciting" that another bid might be pursued. He said the recommendation to pursue the 2026 Olympics was not surprising.
The report, which was submitted to Gov. Gary Herbert and Salt Lake City Mayor Ralph Becker, says the recommendation by the committee to pursue a 2026 bid was unanimous. Approximately one-third of the people on the 14-member committee have ties of some sort to Park City.
It says the United States Olympic Committee would need to start the bidding process for 2026 in fall 2016. The International Olympic Committee typically awards Games seven years prior to the event, putting the timeline for awarding the 2026 Olympics in 2019. A bid could cost between $25 million and $30 million, the report says, basing the number on the budgets of recent bids for the Winter Olympics.
The exploratory committee, in the report, wants some efforts undertaken before the fall of 2016, including growing sports programs, putting on events that "sustain the Olympic legacy" and keep the 2002 venues "well maintained and actively engaged in sport development."
The report includes a section outlining possible upgrades at the Utah Olympic Park, one of the busiest venues during the Games in 2002. It says more facilities could be built at the Snyderville Basin site, identifying an athletes services building dedicated to sports medicine and a building for meetings and conferences. Athlete housing is also of interest.
It also briefly addresses accommodations in the Park City area, saying that the number of rooms has increased by 28 percent since the Olympics. It says the St. Regis Deer Valley, the Montage Deer Valley and the Waldorf Astoria Park City, all opened since the Olympics, "has added to the inventory of 4-5 star hotels that would be available" for another Games.