The O. Zone

USOC stalls Denver, Colorado in bid for 2022 Winter Games

By David O. Williams
Real AspenJuly 3, 2012

The United States Olympic Committee (USOC) today guaranteed there won't be a Winter Olympics staged on American snow for a span of at least 24 years, deciding to pass on a potential Denver bid for the 2022 Winter Games.

The decision came as a blow for Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper and Denver Mayor Michael Hancock, who had been pushing hard lately. The two issued a joint statement today:

“We are disappointed the world won't come to Denver for a Winter Games in 2022. But we appreciate the thoughtful approach taken by the U.S. Olympic Committee to bring the Games back to America. We respect the USOC's process and will continue to work closely with the Committee on bringing great sporting events to Colorado and furthering our reputation as a healthy and active state. The City of Denver and the State of Colorado stand ready to consider a bid for the Winter Games if the opportunity presents itself again.”

David O. Williams

According to the Denver Post, it would cost between $27.8 million and $45 million to bid for the 2022 Games -- and Denver was one of several viable candidates, including Lake Tahoe and Salt Lake City. Utah hosted the last Winter Games on U.S. snow -- at Salt Lake City in 2002.

Ski industry insiders tell me raising that kind of money in time for a 2022 bid by next September would have been virtually impossible. The USOC, according to the Post, wants to wait and do it right after just recently ironing out its revenue-sharing issues with the International Olympic Committee.

The 22-member Denver Olympic Bid Exploratory Committee, which includes two Vail Valley representatives, recently threw itself wholeheartedly behind a 2022 bid. But the timing, especially in a down economy, appears to have been too tight.

So wait and do it right. I can respect that. Do it wrong and communities wind up with marginal return on investment (Dick Lamm would be right). By 2026, the IOC will come begging for legitimate winter Olympic venues, as the planet continues to warm and only so many venues will be able to pull off such a massive undertaking.

My take all along, after covering the last three Winter Games, has been that Colorado should only go for the gold if the state can get maximum return on investment. And in the current and ongoing global recession, federal funding for massive infrastructure projects -- such as high-speed rail along the I-70 corridor -- will be in short supply.

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