Nine in 10 Utah voters support the state hosting the Winter Olympic Games in 2026 or 2030. Legislators have them beat.
In a symbolic move to show their unflagging support to bring the games back to the Beehive State a generation after the state first hosted the games, lawmakers unanimously passed a resolution saying it would support holding the games again in the next decade.
They passed the resolution out of both chambers and sent to Gov. Gary Herbert’s desk ahead of a Wednesday meeting of a committee weighing a bid. Herbert quickly signed the bill.
“It’s clear that ... Utah is ready, willing and very, very able to do another Winter Olympics,” Senate President Wayne Niederhauser, R-Sandy, said Tuesday.
“North America is well due to host the games again,” House Speaker Greg Hughes said. “I don’t think there is any venue in North America better situated than the great state of Utah.”
He said maintaining facilities used in 2002 has made Utah “well positioned to host the games again.”
The committee studying whether it makes sense to host the games in Utah again determined it would cost about $1.3 billion to do it again. It’s set to unveil its full findings Wednesday.
Feb. 2: Call for another Olympics bid advances in Utah Legislature
Spoiler alert about a report expected next week from the exploratory committee looking at whether Utah should again bid for the winter Olympics.
“We’ve got drafts of that report, and it’s recommending that we pursue the Olympics here in Utah,” Senate President Wayne Niederhauser said Friday. And he took a first step to ensure that the Legislature will soon make the same recommendation.
He persuaded the Senate Economic Development Committee to unanimously endorse his SCR9, which says “the Legislature and governor strongly support Utah’s and Salt Lake City’s hosting of a 2026 or 2030 Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games.”
Sen. Karen Mayne, D-West Valley City, said, “I’m way for this. I’ve seen the fruits in my area” including the Maverik Center that hosted Olympic hockey in 2002 and the Kearns speed skating oval, which still often hosts world championships.
“It brought vitality to our neck of the woods and to the state,” she said. Because of such facilities, “I think we are in line to make it happen easily.”
Sen. Jake Anderegg, R-Lehi, said the ability to bid again “is the result of the Legislature taking action several years ago to make sure that there is proper funding for upkeep” of facilities, as opposed to other host nations that often “have allowed facilities to fall into disrepair. We have not allowed that to happen.”
Niederhauser told the committee that bidding for 2026 may be difficult — because Los Angeles already as the 2028 summer games, and “has the rights to all sponsorships” for the Olympics through then.
“We’ll know on March 31 whether the USOC [U.S. Olympic Committee] is going to offer up a bid” for 2026, he said. “It’s a challenge” because of sponsorship arrangements.
But he said if the USOC decides to pursue a bid, Salt Lake City has a good chance “if there is no other city that could step up to the plate for 2026. They may be reaching out to Salt Lake that is ready, willing and able on pretty much short notice.”
Niederhauser said the exploratory committee has come up “with a very thorough budget” for an Olympics that “shows we can make these games work probably as well as anybody in the world can — partially because we’ve been keeping up our venues and investing in them, and we need to continue it.”
He added, “Fifty percent of all winter Olympians train here in Utah. We have become the center for winter sports in North America, and one of the great centers in the world. We don’t want to change that.”