Do you still want a Utah Olympics?
In October the Park Record’s editorial said Parkites should want to host another Olympics. Reading today’s Mountain Town news section, we wonder if that’s really true.
Park Record’s Mountain Town news is running a story about Alberta Canada vying for the 2026 Winter Olympics. Some of the choice quotes are:
The Rocky Mountain Outlook reports that a high-level financial analysis has estimated potential revenue for the 2026 Calgary/Canmore games at $2.19 billion, with expenses of $4.57 billion. That would leave taxpayers on the hook for $2.41 billion, with half of that expected to be covered by the federal government.
So this is Alberta, and things could be different in Utah, but their analysis is it will cost tax payers over $2 billion dollars. Uhh, that’s a lot of teachers… or really a lot of anything.
The article continues on:
According to the FiveThirtyEight, Bent Flyvbjerg at the University of Oxford’s Said Business School found an average 156 percent cost overruns for hosting the Olympics. This compares to 20 percent overruns for road projects, 34 percent for bridges and tunnels, 45 percent for rail projects, 90 percent for dams.
The good news is that Salt Lake’s Olympics in 2002 only overran the budget by 24%.
So we know the 2026 or 2030 Winter Olympics sounds cool, and it’s likely Utah will try to get it, but is it worth it? The proponents would tell you that what we’ll get out of the Olympics (long-term) is light-rail. That could be up Parleys (maybe… but it is pretty steep). That could be a connection from Big Cottonwood to PC (but that requires a big tunnel or 3 hour rides). That could be along 224 (most likely). Light rail is also $30 million a mile.
The question we ask is if we forgo the Olympics what could we do with a billion dollars?
Whatever it is, we’d bet it is better than light rail.
A few weeks ago, I read (either the Park Record, or Salt Lake Tribune), that Utah made enough money on the 2002 Olympics, that we put millions of dollars in an endowment which is currently used to run all the venues. Spend money…make money. But, since all our venues are still up and running, and will just need face lifts, we should make much more if we host them in ’26 or ’30. I’m a big fan of hosting them again.
I always value your opinion Ellen!
I think the Olympics did a number of things for Utah, including improving transportation systems and making it more tourist friendly. I know some of the profits were also put into the endowment for the Kearns Oval and UOP. That said, a few years ago I believe that endowment was running on fumes. If I recall, that’s when the UOP started pushing to hold more events to make money. During the time, there was a big brouhaha over whether they could have signs that would attract people to the Olympic Park.
Overall, I think there was a big effort by Colin Hilton (the CEO of the Olympic Legacy Foundation) and team to find ways to keep it afloat. Those efforts have led to great events like the Slip ‘N Soar. Due to those efforts, I believe the foundation is financially stable again.
That said, I think events like the Olympics build (some great) things. Then after a few years, people have to work hard to support them. and keep them viable.
2002 Olympics also made it easier to drink in the area/state! ALWAYS a good thing!
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