Park City celebrates Olympians amid talk of another games bid
Park City on Friday celebrated the Winter Olympics, boisterously acknowledging the local athletes who competed in the games and the Paralympics in South Korea last winter and also noting the possibility of holding another Olympics in Utah.
The parade, concert and rousing remarks on Main Street on Friday capped an Olympic winter in a community that produces an outsized number of athletes who compete in the games. The Olympians signed autographs, posed for photos and chatted with youngsters who hold dreams of someday participating on winter sports’ biggest stage.
There was also talk, however, about the prospects of Salt Lake City and the wider Olympic region of hosting a second games, perhaps as early as the event in 2030. The chatter at the celebration about a future Olympics did not delve into details, but it was notable regardless as leaders in the region continue discussions of a return of the games after the widely praised Winter Olympics of 2002.
“Sixteen years ago we hosted a successful Olympics here, and it was amazing. And I thought it was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, and it turns out we might get another shot at it in 2030,” Mayor Andy Beerman, one of the featured speakers, told the crowd, to applause. “I thought you might like that.”
Beerman has been the lead City Hall figure in the discussions about another Olympic bid, serving on an exploratory committee that studied numerous aspects of a second games before recommending the region pursue a second games.
Beerman has spoken about Olympic bidding at Park City Council meetings and attended the meetings of the exploratory committee, but the comments on Friday, though brief, were some of his first about the topic in front of a crowd.
The mayor said the Olympics in 2002 were inspiring to the people of Park City, describing that some of the athletes who competed in 2018 may have been influenced by the earlier games in Utah.
“And I believe that’s why many of you are standing here, having seen those games. And I hope that all of you inspire the next crew that might compete here in 2030,” Beerman said.
Another speaker on Friday also noted the possibilities of a second Olympics. Bill Demong, a retired Nordic combined Olympian, spoke about preparing for the games in 2002 while living in Park City. He said some of the top winter-sports venues are in the state and the legacy of 2002 continues through vibrant sports programs.
“We do have a vision of bringing not only more events back to Utah but also, potentially, the Olympic games. And there is no venue in the world that I see better set up to do that in short order, and create an even bigger legacy for winter sports, than Park City, Utah,” Demong said.
The Park City area hosted upward of half of the competitions during the earlier Olympics and is expected to have a similar role if the state is awarded another games. Park City Mountain Resort, Deer Valley Resort and the Utah Olympic Park were venues in 2002 and would be expected to be included as competition locations in another bid.
There has appeared to be anecdotal community support in Park City for another Olympic bid, but City Hall has not held formal talks with rank-and-file Parkites. Those discussions are expected to start next week. The mayor and City Council on April 19 are scheduled to talk about the Olympics in a formal setting.
City Hall staffers at the April 19 meeting intend to outline the efforts thus far toward a potential bid for the games in 2030. They also plan to ask the elected officials about their preferred next steps, such as the possibility of the municipal government hosting an open house or another sort of community outreach method. Additional details about the April 19 meeting are expected to be made public early next week.
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