Op Ed - I'll Take Colorado for 2022
I'll Take Colorado for 2022
By Mike Moran
Mike Moran in Salt Lake City weeks ahead of the 2002 Olympics. (ATR)
It amuses me that the biggest news related to the United States Olympic Committee, just weeks before the Opening Ceremony in London, is not about how many events Michael Phelps will enter in the pool, who will play point guard for the men’s basketball team, or who will carry the flag for the USA delegation in the parade of nations.
Nope, it’s about the new agreement between the USOC and the International Olympic Committee on the share of revenues from American television rights and global sponsorships after 2020.
But, most of all, should the USOC select a city to bid for either the 2022 Olympic Winter Games or the 2024 Olympic Games?
Estimable journalists and Olympic pundits have weighed in on the matter with opinions that span the map of reality as well as thought-provoking musing and speculation. It has the kind of drama approaching a USOC Board of Directors meeting this month in the San Francisco area that can launch a million tweets.
The IOC-USOC Accord, reached in Quebec City on May 24, was reported breathlessly in some international reports with the same intensity previously reserved for the Potsdam Conference, the Camp David Accords, the Versailles Treaty or SALT II.
The new agreement appears to open the door for the USOC to ponder an Olympic bid, with the historical subplot that the last time America hosted a Games was a decade ago in Salt Lake City, but also that the nation has hosted Games eight times in history, including four times in the last thirty years. It was sort of a regular habit for a long time.
What to do?
There is a huge upside to hosting the Games, winter or summer, for the USOC, its family of sports governing bodies, corporate partners, national pride, coverage of amateur sport, and the amazing growth and explosion of some sports for women and youth.
USOC sponsors garner more value for their investments, the price for the organization’s properties is enhanced, fund-raising is elevated, and national public awareness of the movement is dramatically increased. USOC outreach initiatives, such as the educational curriculum programs for kids during the years ahead of domestic Games in Lake Placid, Los Angeles, Atlanta and Salt Lake, reach millions.
Media coverage and interest in American athletes reach levels simply not there when the Games are away from home. Almost every daily paper, major magazine and website has reporters assigned to the Olympic arena, unlike the handful of men and women who cover that beat now in the months leading to London, made worse by the problems facing the print industry itself. Best of all, it’s better for budgets to send journalists to a domestic Olympics than the thousands required to travel to London, Sochi or Rio.
The USOC, which avoided any discussion on future bids during the negotiations with the IOC in the last three or four years, says it will address its options in San Francisco this month.
It is known that Denver, Reno-Tahoe, Salt Lake City and Bozeman, Montana, are interested in a bid for the 2022 Olympic Winter Games. Each has created an exploratory commission to examine the issues, the options, the costs and the reality of going ahead if the USOC nods.
Elsewhere, there has been interest in a 2022 bid from cities including Nice, France; Split, Croatia; Helsinki; Oslo; Munich; Geneva; St. Moritz; Krakow, Poland and, yes, Barcelona. After expressing early interest, Christchurch, New Zealand; Lucerne, Switzerland; Quebec City, Canada and Ostersund, Sweden bailed.
On the other hand, all that is generally known about bids from international cities for the 2024 Olympic Games are reports of activity or interest from Baku, Doha, Paris, Berlin, Toronto, Dubai, Copenhagen, and my favorite, Casablanca! There already exists a Rick’s Café in the Moroccan city, too. Fans of Bogart, Bergman, Peter Lorre and Claude Rains would be delighted.
Media reports in the last two weeks have identified some level of interest from Los Angeles, New York, San Francisco, Philadelphia and Chicago, without specific formal response from leadership in any of them at the moment.
New York City spent upward of $50 million on its 2012 Olympic Games bid and proposed a $3.1 billion Games budget. The city was tossed on the second ballot in Singapore as London upset Paris for the honor.
Chicago may have spent as much as $70 million on its 2016 bid with a proposed Games budget of $4.8 billion. The Windy City was the first eliminated in Copenhagen when Rio got the nod.
Just exactly which of the aforementioned U.S. mega-metropolis cities have that kind of money to risk, citizen approval, venue cost financing and after-use guarantees?
There are those who think that now that peace in our time has been achieved between the USOC and IOC – as if the USOC had been some sort of rogue National Olympic Committee for years or the Olympic Movement’s Henry Potter in Bedford Falls on Christmas Eve – that an American bid would receive a wink and a nod.
Another is that a USOC bid for the 2024 Summer Games has a great shot because the IOC won’t get a credible African bid, a continent where the Games have never visited, or that the worldwide economy will be much better, or that the Summer edition is the bigger prize.
A Winter Games bid, should the USOC decide to move ahead in that direction, would require a rapid selection process by mid-2013.
Olympic House has indicated that in either case, it will not conduct a costly domestic campaign to find its choice, and that’s a great idea.
What is certain is that the list of American cities that have 2022 exploratory groups at work or those that are thought to be interested in 2024 will have to get serious, and quickly.
Does IOC resentment over Denver’s 1976 abdication still linger? Does the IOC still harbor ill will about Salt Lake’s role in the tawdry bid scandal? Does the Reno-Tahoe plan take into consideration California’s economic struggles? Does Bozeman have the airport, housing and infrastructure?
Denver was awarded the 1976 Olympics, but taxpayers rejected the Games in 1972. (Getty Images)
I’d suggest, that if the USOC decides to push ahead with a bid, make it a 2022 Winter Games bid. And if the stars align, the financial support is there, and the passion and commitment is real, go with Denver and the already Olympics-friendly, outdoors-loving State of Colorado.
Go for the Gold Ring now, while the warm embrace of the IOC endures.
Denver has hosted Sport Accord, major international events and become one of the top five sports cities in the United States. Colorado’s ski areas are superb, Denver’s airport and hotels among the best, and Colorado Springs has been the hometown of the USOC for 34 years.
Tim Tebow is gone to New York, Peyton Manning’s arm will only go so far, and the Rockies won’t be in the World Series for awhile.
And, the USOC site visits in the seven years ahead of the Games from Colorado Springs to Denver can be done using the Car Pool lane on I-25.
Mike Moran was the chief spokesman for the United States Olympic Committee from 1978-2003 and the Senior Communications Counselor for the New York 2012 Olympic Bid. He is a media consultant, keynote speaker, and is represented by Octagon Olympic & Action Sports. He lives in Colorado Springs
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