Salt Lake City gears up to bid for 2030 Winter Olympics

SALT LAKE CITY -- State and city leaders are moving forward with a bid to host another Winter Olympics.

At a meeting of the Salt Lake City Olympic/Paralympic Exploratory Committee on Monday, a number of high-level political leaders and power players discussed the logistics of hosting another games.

Members of the Salt Lake Olympic/Paralympic Exploratory Committee meet to discuss a 2026 or 2030 Olympic bid. (Photo by Ben Winslow, FOX 13 News)

Fraser Bullock, who was the Chief Operating Officer of the 2002 Olympics and is a co-chair of the exploratory committee, said realistically Salt Lake City is looking at bidding for the 2030 Winter Olympics.

Bolstered by a new poll showing 89 percent of Utahns support hosting another Winter Olympics, Governor Gary Herbert said he believed the city and state should go for another bid.

"I think we’re best suited of any place in the world to host a winter games," the governor told reporters.

Utah would not need to build any new venues. The ones built for the 2002 Winter Olympics are still in operation. While they would not discuss how much it would cost to stage the Olympics (the amount is still being calculated), Bullock told FOX 13 it was in the ballpark of $1.5 to $1.6 billion. That's about $400 million less than it would cost other cities who might seek to bid and have to build new venues.

"We have the venues built, we’ve got experienced team members so we can hire them better. We can economize in many ways to make that budget work," Bullock said.

Gov. Herbert insisted that the economic benefits to Salt Lake City and the state of Utah were worth more than that. Research by the University of Utah's Kem Gardner Institute showed the state experienced an economic boost of nearly $5 billion as a direct result of the 2002 Olympics.

"The fact we hosted the Winter Olympics in 2002 has been a great door-opener for us on international business," the governor said.

Utah is also on better footing in terms of transportation planning and other issues. There were concerns about inversion and climate change resulting in fewer days below freezing, but advances in clean energy could mean a zero waste, 100-percent renewable energy Olympics (Mayor Jackie Biskupski has launched an initiative to have Salt Lake City on 100-percent renewable energy by 2030).

The ski resorts that served as venues for the 2002 Olympics are "all in" on another bid, the committee was told. Salt Lake City could be competing with Denver or Reno-Tahoe in the United States, and Sion, Switzerland; Stockholm, Sweden; Calgary, Canada; and Sapporo, Japan.

The deadline for Salt Lake City to declare its intent to bid for another Winter Olympics is March 31, 2018. The International Olympic Committee could award a bid by September 2019.