Record editorial: Park City would be again forever changed by Olympic encore
It’s getting real, folks.
On Friday, the United States Olympic Committee ended months of suspense by picking Salt Lake City over Denver to bid on a future Winter Games, likely in 2030. It was not a shocking announcement but it was a significant one. It sent a seismic wave through Park City, where the legacy of the 2002 Olympics still burns bright and where residents fondly recall memories from that era.
Salt Lake isn’t a lock to earn the favor of the International Olympic Committee when it awards the 2030 Games (there also seems to be a chance Salt Lake could be asked to host in 2026), but it’s hard not to get excited. The field of international cities vying for the 2030 Games hasn’t been set yet, but it’s a good bet that Salt Lake will be the favorite throughout the process, given the region’s experience and the fact organizers are pledging to put on the Games without using money from local taxpayers.
If Salt Lake does, in fact, win the Games, one thing is for certain: Park City will be forever changed, as it was the first time. The 2002 Olympics ushered in an evolution for our town that continues to resonate today, nearly 17 years later.
The uncertainty of how another Olympics would shape our town is, to some, a reason for pause. There is concern that bringing the world back for an encore would further fan the flames of development and exacerbate problems like traffic congestion and the affordability crisis.
But there is also plenty of evidence to back the notion that the Games would instead help us make progress on the many issues Park City is facing. Local elected officials have suggested federal funding for critical transit projects would be available, for instance. And perhaps athlete housing could be built in Summit County, then converted to affordable units once the Games are over.
Leveraging the Olympics in that way would take diligence and foresight from our leaders, but the opportunity would be there. That makes the prospect of another Games enticing, even beyond the allure of showcasing our town to the world for a second time.
Of course, the conversation surrounding what the Games would mean for Park City would be rendered moot if the IOC doesn’t choose Salt Lake City. But while we wait for that decision — the 2030 Games would likely be awarded in 2023 — we acknowledge that the talking points espoused by Olympic officials in Utah ring true.
There is no place on Earth better equipped to host the Winter Olympics. We have the facilities. We have the experience. We have the passion.
And now, we’ll have the opportunity to make our pitch to the IOC. That makes Friday a day we won’t soon forget and one that, ultimately, could change Park City forever.
The efforts of organizations like the South Summit Trails Foundation mean access to easy access to trails is no longer an amenity enjoyed only on the West Side.