Group voices concerns over 2030 Olympic bid

SALT LAKE CITY — A Utah group is voicing concerns over 2030 Winter Olympic bid, saying residents may not be considering consequences of an Olympic round two.

All around the Salt Lake Valley, residents can find remnants of the 2002 Winter Olympic Games.

The infrastructure that came alongside those games is part of what has been garnering a lot of support from Utah elected officials, but a group has concerns Utahns aren’t taking the consequences of the games into consideration.

“It was awesome. it was super fun, I went to three events a day,” said Josh Kanter, the founder of Alliance for a Better Utah.

It was an event that had a lasting impact on the Beehive State.

“In many ways the 2002 Olympics put salt lake city on the map,” Kanter continued.

But the question is, is Utah ready for round two?

“If anyone is well suited to host the Olympics again, Salt Lake is it, right?” Kanter said.

The fate of the 2030 games is a tale of two cities… Salt Lake and Denver.

“Two regional powerhouses,” Kanter said.

A number of elected officials have come to bat for the games.

“We are proud to be a part of the olympic family,” said Salt Lake City Mayor Jackie Biskupski in a press conference Wednesday. “We feel like this is in our DNA.”

Still, not everyone is on board.

“It’s one of these things that just because you can do something doesn’t mean you should,” Kanter said. “Our [Alliance for a Better Utah] concern is there is a lot of critical thinking that needs to be done just in terms of, is this the right thing for the state at this time?”

The Alliance for a Better Utah agrees, the games do have their pros.

“It’s great that we’re going to put the state on the map again and give us that boost of tourism,” Kanter said.

But they also believe we may be blinded to the cons.

“People need to think about all of the consequences, positive and negative,” Kanter said.

Part of the issue they see is how our current infrastructure would be able to support an influx of people.

“We don’t really have the infrastructure in place for some of these things as well. Those long term consequences, the environmental consequences… there are a lot of things i think people need to think about long and hard,” Kanter said.

Another concern stems from the $1.3 billion price tag attached to getting Salt Lake Olympics ready.

“How many tax payer dollars are going to be used and where is that money coming from? Obviously we have competing needs for tax payer dollars all the time,” Kanter said.

Even with a hefty number of people attending the games, a recent study has projected Salt Lake would break even with the amount spent — but if there was money left over, it's not clear where it would go to.

“With the Olympics, that’s generally speaking going to be Summit County, Davis and Weber county and then of course Salt Lake County and yet the real economic need in this state is in many of our other counties,” Kanter said.

Overall, they wonder, could that amount of money be better spent elsewhere?

“It’s sort of weighing where our priorities are and what can we do with the amount of money that the state is spending,” Kanter said.

Even some of our Olympic bid counterparts aren’t sold on the games.

“We haven’t solved homelessness, we haven’t solved affordable housing, we haven’t solved transportation issues… all of those things seem to be bigger priorities than a three week party,” said Brad Evans, an organizer for Let Denver Vote.

Let Denver Vote is concerned that Denver isn’t ready to take on the Olympic burden. Their goal is to gain support to get an initiative on the 2019 ballot which would allow residents to vote on whether or not they want to see the Olympics in Colorado, if taxpayer dollars are involved.

“We just want to make sure the public has a vote in it,” Evans said.

Given our current infrastructure, they say Salt Lake may be the better choice.

“Yeah! Go Salt Lake City,” Evans laughed. “I mean Salt Lake’s had it before, you guys have had it before and may be more well equipped.”

But that’s not necessarily a compliment.

“It’s like with Amazon, phewww, dodged that bullet!” Evans laughed as he pretended to wipe sweat from his brow.

At the end of the day, if it doesn’t go to one city, it will go to the other. “It is definitely tax payer hot potato,” Evans said.

In a recent poll more than 80 percent of Utahns reported being in support of Salt Lake hosting the 2030 games. However, the alliance believes that number may be incorrect.

“Going out and polling something and getting people to say, ‘Yes, we want the olympics’ is one thing. Put it on the ballot and tell people it might cost money, or what the consequences may be and you might get a very different result,” Kanter said.

When it comes down to it, Alliance for a Better Utah says they just want to see what’s really better for Utah.

“We have to at least be critical and honest about what those priorities are and how we’re ranking them.”

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