Olympic Exploratory Committee tells governor, mayor to go after 2026 Winter Games

Published: Thursday, Oct. 18 2012 11:00 a.m. MDT

Those facilities were built for the 2002 Games with $59 million in tax dollars that were paid back, along with $40 million toward operating expenses expected to keep the facilities open through 2030.

Bullock called the $85 million in tax dollars in the budget "nice to have. That's not a must-have. It's not an essential thing that has to happen for us, but it's important because I think it increases our odds" by showing government support.

Bell said he believes state and local officials can come up with a way to fund the $85 million.

"That's not chump change by any means," he said, but officials can be confident the money will be paid back based on past experience.

The report said the 2026 Games could be expected to produce a $5 billion economic impact, provide the equivalent of more than 30,000 jobs that last a year and generate more than $75 million in revenues to state and local governments.

University of Utah political science professor Matthew Burbank, the author of a book on Olympic politics that featured Salt Lake City, said there could be more opposition to any government spending for a second Olympics.

"It's a whole lot easier to sell that Olympic dream to cities that haven't hosted a Games," he said, noting that even with the success of the 2002 Games, it's difficult to pinpoint the payoffs, especially in Salt Lake.

For 17-year-old freestyle aerialist and Olympic hopeful Madison Olsen, there's no question that Salt Lake should go after another Winter Games.

"I think it would be an awesome opportunity," Olsen said. For the U.S. athletes who train in Utah, competing on their home turf would "give us the advantage to be the best in the world."

The Park City High School senior said while there's always the possibility she'd stay in the sport and try to make the U.S. team for 2026, knowing that the Olympics were going to be in Salt Lake "would definitely motivate me to do it."

E-mail: lisa@desnews.com

Twitter: dnewspolitics

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