2026 or 2030? Utah Olympic committee doesn’t know which billion-dollar Games to go after.

(Scott Sommerdorf | The Salt Lake Tribune) Olympians Derek Parra, left and Eric Heiden, applaud as members of the newly-announced Olympic/Paralympic Exploratory Committee (OEC) met with members of the media to outline their reasons for exploring the possibility of hosting a future Olympic Winter Games, Thursday, October 19, 2017.

Fraser Bullock, once again, dusted off his 2002 jacket.

Which should come as no surprise.

He wore it at the 10th anniversary celebration of the 2002 Olympic Games. And in December 2012, when Utah officials announced that the state was ready to host another Games. And again at the 15th anniversary of the 2002 Games this February.

If things go well, Bullock could add another Olympic jacket to his wardrobe.

At the unveiling of the newly formed Olympic Exploratory Committee (OEC) in the Rice-Eccles Stadium tower Thursday afternoon, the Utah businessman and former chief operating officer of the Salt Lake Olympic Committee recalled being in the same room 15½ years ago during the Closing Ceremony of the 2002 Olympic Games, before watching the fireworks go off from the roof of the stadium with then-Gov. Mike Leavitt.

It was the culmination of what Bullock described as “37,000 milestones” the committee had to accomplish just to get to that point. Another plan is moving along the tracks to bring another Olympics to Utah — along with other hurdles.

“This is a significant occasion,” said Gov. Gary Herbert. “It’s a new opportunity for us.”

Salt Lake City and state leaders have long expressed interest in bringing the Olympics back to Utah. And, while they wouldn’t say a bid was a foregone conclusion, Thursday’s news conference focused more on whens, not ifs.

One of the most pressing questions: Would it be for 2026 or 2030?

As the OEC’s three-month study will determine whether Utah is an economically feasible location to host another Olympics, it remains unclear which cycle could be rewarded. The group plans to have a study completed and presented by February. The United States Olympic Committee (USOC) will then choose whether to submit a bid city on March 31, 2018. Salt Lake City (ostensibly including Park City), Denver and the Reno-Lake Tahoe, Nev., area are the early front-runners.

By simultaneously awarding Summer Games to Paris (2024) and Los Angeles (2028), the International Olympic Committee (IOC) may have changed the dynamic of how future host cities are chosen. Bullock said Thomas Bach, president of the IOC, reiterated that a similar scenario could play out regarding the Winter Games in the near future.

The IOC is scheduled to announce a host city for the 2026 Games in 2019. The possibility also remains that the IOC chooses to award 2026 and 2030 in this bid cycle.

“Even if we were focused mostly on 2030, we have to be in the process for ’26 in case there is a dual award,” Bullock said. That year “is probably a little more comfortable for L.A. because we come after them, we have our own marketing period. [2026] would be a little more challenging, but as you see the fluidity of what’s happened over the last four or five days, so many moving parts, who knows what’s going to happen in ’26?”

Robbins acknowledged the potential pressure it would put on the USOC and the Los Angeles 2028 Games if the IOC allowed the Olympics to return to Salt Lake City.

“They worked their tails off to get the Games,” Robbins said. “But we are also cognizant that it could be packaged again.”

The challenges of 2026, Bullock said, would be finding the right balance between sponsors for those Games and the Los Angeles. Olympics. Not to mention that U.S. Soccer, in conjunction with Mexican and Canadian soccer federations, is spearheading a joint bid for the 2026 FIFA World Cup. Rice-Eccles Stadium remains in the mix for potential match sites.

“You only have so many domestic sponsorships,” Bullock said. “The sponsorship environment is very strong, but having back-to-back Games, the question is, will a sponsor have enough to do all of them?”

As for 2030, Bullock mentioned the unknowns of climate change and its potential effect on snow conditions.

“Another challenge of ’30 is we’ll all be four years older,” Bullock said. “Some of us will be really old by then. It’s nice to have a younger team from that perspective.”

Utah has many of the facilities needed to host a winter Olympics. Most of the venues used in 2002 have remained in use since. This week, state auditors estimated it would cost $40 million over the next decade to get those facilities ready for another Olympics — a figure state lawmakers have said they are committed to fund.

The total price tag for the games, however, would be much larger than that. Bullock gave a ballpark estimate Thursday.

The committee co-chairman prefaced the number by saying that if the Salt Lake City bid could serve on a standalone basis in which it could feature domestic sponsorship independent of the Los Angeles Games, the potential budget would be about $1.6 billion, not including the costs of federal security. To host the Games, he added, the SLOC would have to work toward lowering that to $1.2 billion-$1.3 billion.

“Total dollars spent,” he said, “it’s probably less than last time because we don’t have to build the venues, but that’s to our benefit economically to making this model work.”

Reporter Aaron Falk contributed to this story.

  • Olympic Exploratory Committee co-chairmen: Fraser Bullock, Wayne Niederhauser, Jeff Robbins.

  • Athlete members: Eric Heiden, Catherine Raney-Norman, Noelle Pikus Pace, Derek Parra, Chris Waddell.

  • Politician members: Gov. Gary Herbert, SLC Mayor Jackie Biskupski, House Speaker Greg Hughes.

  • Business leader members: Jeremy Andrus, Lane Beattie, Cindy Crane, Spencer P. Eccles, Becky Kearns, Dave Layton, Al Mansell, Peter Mouskondis, Steve Miller, Steve Price, Jim Sorenson Jr.

  • Olympic Exploratory Committee: Andy Beerman, Fraser Bullock, Natalie Gochnour, Colin Hilton, Brett Hopkins, Molly Mazzolini, Jeff Robbins, Grant Thomas, Justin Toth.