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Denver to vote on whether to drop Olympic bid

Fireworks explode during the 2002 Winter Olympic Games closing ceremony Sunday, Feb 24, 2002 at Rice-Eccles Stadium. (Scott G. Winterton, Deseret News)

As the race to host the 2030 Winter Olympics continues to narrow, Denver lawmakers are musing over the possibility of dropping out, leaving Salt Lake City uncontested to represented the United States in its bid to host the games.

Denver has openly discussed the possibility of putting the option to drop their Olympic bid on a ballot in May of next year. If they do, the voters will have the option to pull the state out of the running.

The 2030 Winter Olympics: an expensive honor

The Olympics in Salt Lake City, 2002.

Salt Lake City skyline during the 2002 Olympics. (Photo: Ravell Call/KSL)

Denver’s talk of dropping out follows hot on the heels of the only other US city competing for the Olympics, Reno-Tahoe, dropping out of the bidding process earlier this week.

It’s an idea largely supported by a group called Let Denver Vote, who have expressed concerns that hosting the 2030 Winter Olympics might do their city more harm than good.

“It’s rare for the Olympics to make money,” Tony Pigford, a member of the group, told Fox 31 Denver. “They typically have no long-term financial benefit.”

It wouldn’t be the first time that Denver has dropped out. When Denver was given the chance to host the 1976 Olympic Games, voters came out in droves to express their fear that the honor would cost the city more than it was worth. The city held a referendum and, through a 60-40 vote, decided to let the games go.

Salt Lake City tried to nab the games in ’76, but Denver’s quick departure had left the IOC with too bitter a taste in their mouths to consider passing the honor on to another American city.

Utah would, however, get its chance to host the games in 2002. Despite Denver’s fear that hosting the games would bankrupt them, they were extraordinarily profitable for Salt Lake City, bringing in a surplus of $56 million.

That impact was long-lasting, as well. Since hosting the 2002 games, Utah’s ski lodges have seen a 42 percent increase in business that’s carried on for well over a decade.

It remains to be seen whether Denver will ultimately put the Olympics to a vote or, if they do, whether or not its residents will vote to drop out.

For the time being, though, the Olympics hold widespread support in Utah, with 89 percent of the Utahns saying that they are eager to host the 2030 Winter Olympics.

More to the story

KSL Newsradio’s Dave & Dujanovic talked about this on their air, and they say that the Olympics are as good as ours. If you missed the show live, you can still catch everything they had to say on the Dave & Dujanovic podcast.

Dave & Dujanovic can be heard weekdays from 9 a.m. to noon on KSL Newsradio. Users can find the show on the KSL Newsradio website and app, as well as Apple Podcasts and Google Play.

Listen on Apple PodcastsListen on Google Play Music