UOLF says more events, athlete services could be on docket |

UOLF says more events, athlete services could be on docket

Annamaija Oinas of Finland competes in the Nordic Combined Continental Cup at the Utah Olympic Park on Dec. 20.
Tanzi Propst/Park Record

For the Utah Olympic Legacy Foundation, which oversees three Olympic venues, (the Utah Olympic Park, Soldier Hollow and the Utah Olympic Oval in Kearns), the Winter Games are a reason to be.

What, then, does the possibility of hosting another Olympics mean to the nonprofit?

For those venues, the games are already a gift that keeps on giving.

Colin Hilton, the president of Utah Olympic Legacy Foundation, said the organization had begun a 10-year capital investment campaign, thanks largely to a grant of $40 million state legislators approved earlier this year.

In terms of that project, the United States Olympic Committee’s selection of Salt Lake City for its 2030 Winter Games bid is simply the icing on the cake.

Hilton said a good deal of that grant money will go to the upkeep of its venues, which are tasked with keeping up with each sport’s changing standards – from ice making to timing equipment. This year alone, the UOLF plans to spend $9 million on improvements, and that’s excluding the new athlete housing development at the Utah Olympic Park, set to open by August 2019, and the mountain expansion project above the Utah Olympic Park.

The UOLF also just cut the ribbon on a $13-million multi-use facility at the Olympic Oval skating venue, which was funded through five other partners.

Hilton said those plans, along with the continued use of the Olympic venues and an increase in event programming like the upcoming Freeski, Freestyle and Snowboard World Championships, and the announcement of Soldier Hollow’s first World Cup since the 2002 Winter Games, were influential in the USOC’s selection of Salt Lake for its repeat bid.

Hilton said the future will only hold more high-level events for the venues.

“It’s important, in our mind, to show that Utah has not only the facilities but a capability of hosting regular competitions – having regular officials and volunteers who are excellent at what they do,” he said. “What the recent news does is continues to show the benefit of putting on these World Cup and World Championship events. That is symbolic of our region’s support to those efforts, and we expect that that will continue going forward.”

Hilton and the UOLF are also looking for ways to add to the planned improvements before the Winter Games.

“All of the capital improvements that we have funded are for the bare minimum to maintain … these Olympic facilities,” he said. “Will we try to add to them in greater ways through additional fundraising efforts? Absolutely.”

Right now, Hilton said the organization’s emphasis will be on creating a more athlete-centric Olympics, illustrated by athlete housing development at the Utah Olympic Park.

“We have essentially financed the construction of that facility because of our commitment to create a greater amount of services for athletes to take advantage of while they are in Utah,” he said, adding that the next “evolution” in the UOLF would focus on adding “facilities and services that round out the support to athletes and training.”

As for additional future improvements to accommodate an Olympics, should Salt Lake City win the 2030 race, those decisions will be made jointly between the UOLF and the USOC.

“Now that we are a known entity that will be partnering with the USOC, we will work together to figure out the process and the timing,” he said. “Right now we have to be patient and be in a little bit of a holding pattern until the steps become more obvious.”

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