With a click of a mouse, Utah’s 5,000-page 2034 Olympic bid officially submitted to IOC

MLB, NHL complexes aren’t among the venues yet, but a downtown sports and entertainment district would be “magical.”

(Francisco Kjolseth | The Salt Lake Tribune) The Olympic Cauldron burns again at Rice-Eccles Stadium at the University of Utah in Salt Lake City on Friday, Dec. 1, 2023, in celebration of Salt Lake City being named the “preferred host” of the 2034 Winter Olympic Games. The local organizing committee officially submitted its bid to the IOC on Thursday, Feb. 29, 2024.

At 9:18 a.m. Thursday, in the elaborate, red-velvet-draped Gold Room at the Utah State Capitol, several of the state’s highest dignitaries huddled together, shoulder to shoulder.

Then, with great anticipation, they clicked the button of a mouse.

With that, the Salt Lake City-Utah Committee for the Games officially submitted to the International Olympic Committee the state’s bid to host the 2034 Winter Olympics.

“Today was a really important and pivotal step,” said Catherine Raney-Norman, the committee’s co-chair, “in us continuing to put forward Utah as a candidate for the 2034 Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games”

Though the bid has been sent, the local committee still has a few puddles to jump before it can be named a host.

It has until March 29 to submit its contract guarantees. The venue and hotel contracts have all been completed, according to Darren Hughes, the bid lead. However, he said some loose ends remain, mostly in the realms of advertising, marketing and media rights.

The committee will also entertain members of the IOC’s Future Host Commission one more time before Utah’s bid is accepted and potentially put to vote. That group will tour prospective venues April 9-13. If that goes well, the IOC board will vote in late June on whether to accept the bid. Then, in a meeting local organizers hope falls on July 24 — Pioneer Day in Utah — many of the same dignitaries present in the Gold Room on Thursday will present the state’s bid in front of the IOC general assembly. Members would vote that same day and, by that night, the host contract officially designating Utah as the host of the 2034 Winter Games could be signed.

Anita DeFrantz, an IOC board member since 1986, said, “The ease with which [the bid effort] will be received, I think, is exemplary.”

“I was just in Lausanne, and you are being spoken of in glowing terms,” DeFrantz said. “But also, we have to remember, it still has to be an election and we have to get the votes.”

FILE - In this March 2, 2016, file photo, International Olympic Committee (IOC) president Thomas Bach, of Germany, left, speaks with IOC member Anita DeFrantz, of the United States, right, at an IOC executive board meeting in Lausanne, Switzerland. (Laurent Gillieron/Keystone via AP, File)

Even if Utah’s bid doesn’t produce another Olympics — though it seems almost a foregone conclusion that it will — it certainly produced a lot of paperwork. The 5,000-page host submission addresses 43 questions asked by the IOC, ranging from a Games vision to guardrails against corruption. It also contains 53 spreadsheets, 26 site plans, 18 studies, 14 tables and infographics and two maps.

“The IOC has designed a process that gives us a really strong foundation for actually planning and staging the 2034 Games,” Hughes said. “Because we have planned everything from our venue concepts and down to specific venue designs and where we’re going to need tents and where we’re going to have other kinds of overlay to our full staffing plan, from the growth of the organizing committee all the way through to 2034.”

Speaking of site plans, new venues are being bandied about as homes for future NHL and MLB teams aren’t included in the site plan, according to SLC-UT president and CEO Fraser Bullock. That doesn’t mean the local committee isn’t salivating over them.

In October, Bullock told The Tribune that the MLB stadium a group led by Gail Miller plans to build near the Utah State Fairpark could be used as the medals plaza.

“It is not in the bid file,” Bullock said Thursday, “but the coincidence is magical.

“We would love to have an arena and a sports and entertainment district like that for downtown. Any new arenas, whether it’s Major League Baseball or hockey or whatever, would be additive to the Games. And we would just look at ways that we can take advantage of those arenas. So we’re cheering them on and hope that they’re successful.”

Most of the guarantees Hughes’ team collected over the past several years, including those for venues, covered both the 2030 and 2034 Olympic Games. Bullock said it was good to have that flexibility as the state stayed open to hosting either edition.

“We are zeroed in completely on 2034,” he said. “It’s the perfect time for Utah and it’s the perfect time for the IOC.”

In November, the IOC executive board selected Salt Lake City as its preferred site for 2034. At that same meeting, it named France the preferred candidate for the 2030 Winter Games. Even though France has had less than a year to pull its bid together — compared to almost a decade for Utah — it is also expected to officially submit its bid to the IOC on Thursday. That bid could be put to vote mere days ahead of the Paris 2024 Summer Games.