Denver panel: Olympics bid won’t burden taxpayers
Ryan Summerlin June 27, 2012
DENVER (AP) – A Denver group looking at bidding for the 2022 Winter Olympics said Wednesday the bid wouldn’t burden taxpayers, and issued a recommendation to Gov. John Hickenlooper and Mayor Michael Hancock to move forward.
The exploratory committee, formed by Hickenlooper and Hancock, concluded that Denver would be in a “very good position” to seek the games and that there are “clear long-term community and economic benefits” in both bidding and eventually hosting.
The recommendation is a step in what’s still a lengthy process. Hickenlooper and Hancock still have to weigh in, and the U.S. Olympic Committee has to decide whether it will be looking at bids. Communities around Lake Tahoe, Calif., have already expressed interest in hosting the 2022 games.
A bid for those games would be due in the fall of 2013, with the announcement of a host coming in 2015. The bidding process would cost between $27 million and $45 million, said Anne Warhover, the co-chair of the exploratory committee. Those costs would be covered by private sponsors and not with state money, the committee said.
However, if Denver were to host the games, the city would be responsible for some costs, such as security and transportation. It’s too soon to say how much the costs would be, and for what. But the committee said the city could follow the model from when Denver hosted the 2008 Democratic National Convention and that there could be federal support.
The committee said in a report that hosting the Olympics has “proven to be a viable and financially successful enterprise” and that any costs Denver would incur from hosting would be “far eclipsed by the positive economic benefits.”
Hickenlooper and Hancock issued a joint statement thanking the committee and saying the report will inform their decision on what to do next.
“It is great news to learn about the Committee’s unanimous support of a bid and we deeply appreciate the research and expertise offered in the report,” the statement said.
Denver was awarded the 1976 Winter Olympics, but voters later rejected the idea over concerns about pollution and sprawl. Those games were eventually held in Innsbruck, Austria.
Warhover said a lot of time has passed since then and insisted that a large number of voters are in favor of hosting the games.
The committee also noted that although New York failed to get the 2012 Olympics, its bid “led to tremendous infrastructure improvements.”
The USOC had earlier postponed its quarterly board meeting scheduled for Thursday in San Jose, Calif., after 40 members of its staff were forced to evacuate their homes because of wildfires burning near Colorado Springs. But later Wednesday, the USOC said the meeting would take place via conference call. Among the possible topics is a potential bid for either 2022 or the 2024 Summer Games.