Editorial: Community conversation needed as push to bring back Olympics ramps up
May 3, 2018
After an exploratory committee examining whether Utah should bid for another Olympics offered an emphatic thumbs up earlier this year, Park City appears poised to dash toward a second games alongside the state's broader Olympic region.
Many in Park City are ready to charge full steam ahead, and rightly so. Helping host an Olympics is often a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, so Parkites should feel fortunate if they get a chance to do it again. The benefits, from international prestige to securing federal funding for things like transportation, affordable housing and clean energy improvements to experiencing an unforgettable 17 days while the world watches, are too good to pass up.
But perhaps not everybody in town is enthused at the idea. City Councilor Tim Henney said as much during a recent meeting at City Hall, revealing that he has heard opposition from people he considers to be influential in the community.
Publicly, resistance to Park City hosting another games has seemed muted as the prospect has become more real in recent months. But Henney's remarks highlight an important factor not to be overlooked: Inviting the Olympics back would dramatically affect all corners of the community, both in the yearslong lead-up to the games as well as during the actual event. So we should view the discussions about Park City's role in another bid as a community conversation — and that means seeking out the opinions of people who don't want the Olympics to return.
To be clear, there is broad support throughout Utah's Olympic region for hosting the games again, and it's likely that the majority of Parkites share that view. Park City should and would be a major player if the Olympics return. But a vibrant community discussion that considers all perspectives would give us a clear picture of where we stand before the bid process begins in earnest. That would allow us to shape our involvement in a way that maximizes the benefits and minimizes potential drawbacks.
For their part, Park City's elected officials, who will be the ones to actually determine the city's course, seem to agree. They've been clear that gathering as much feedback from residents as possible before they make any decisions will be a major priority.
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Doing so will be crucial if we hope to make a future Olympics as successful for Park City as the 2002 Games were. And if that occurs, perhaps even some of the residents now opposed to welcoming the world will ultimately be pleased to see our community carry the Olympic torch once again.
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