LANE ONE: Salt Lake City organizers to visit IOC in November, in talks with LA28 and USOPC to smooth way for 2030 bid

“We’re ready. … I want to make sure that we convey that message that we’re ready. We’re ready to move forward and we’re ready to see this happen.”

That Salt Lake City-Utah Committee for the Games Board Chair Catherine Raney Norman, speaking to reporters during a Tuesday morning briefing that underscored the very real possibility that the 2030 Olympic Winter Games – or perhaps 2034 – could be awarded to Salt Lake by early 2022 at the latest.

Raney Norman and bid President and Chief Executive Fraser Bullock – chief operating officer of the highly successful 2002 Winter Games in Salt Lake City – went over the Governing Board meeting held online earlier in the morning and answered questions. Key highlights:

● A small delegation from the Salt Lake City-Utah Committee for the Games and the U.S. Olympic & Paralympic Committee will visit with the International Olympic Committee in Europe during the week of 29 November.

● Discussions are continuing on the main issue that would prevent a 2030 bid: interference with the marketing of the 2028 Olympic Games in Los Angeles. Bullock explained that “the analysis has largely been completed and we’re now sharing that with the USOPC” and with regard to working with the LA28 organizers:

“How do we potentially collaborate with them – because if you have back-to-back Games, both sides want to be involved – but in every case, not hurting L.A.’s hosting of the Games, in fact, enhancing them. …

“I’ve had dialogues with [Chair] Casey Wasserman and with [CEO] Kathy Carter and others [at LA28]. And I always start out the conversation saying that our no. 1 priority is the success of L.A. And we believe that, we support that, so anything we do has to start with that in mind.

“And they get that, they understand our support and they’re tracking closely what we’re doing.”

● Bullock also confirmed that Salt Lake City has no plans to build any new sites at all:

“We’re in the fortunate position of every venue is in place. Even though there are 40% new events, we can fit them into our existing infrastructure, which is just amazing. And in fact, many of our venues – especially non-competition venues – have taken a leap forward.

“I mean, our new airport – are you kidding me? – wow! And then the village at the University of Utah, you go look at that and see the enhancements that have been made there for the athlete experience, and then Rice-Eccles Stadium added the new area in the south end zone, which is off-the-charts.

“Our transportation infrastructure is better, so in every way, we’re stronger, we’re even more prepared, but all of the competition venues: they’re there, we have everything we need.”

Bullock also emphasized that discussions with venue owners to finalize basic commitments for the Games are well underway and are hoped to be completed by the end of the year. Agreements to reserve the required 24,000 hotel rooms for broadcasters, media, officials, sponsors and suppliers are being sought and are expected to be completed prior to the IOC meetings.

All of this points to a potent bid – a written version of which is underway – that could lead to a “targeted dialogue” with the IOC for 2030 as soon as the IOC Session in Beijing in February 2022. This would be consistent with the IOC’s strike-when-you-can approach to the 2032 Olympic Games with Brisbane, Australia. Or the IOC could wait until later in 2022.

Bullock focused on the USOPC making a designation for 2030 or 2034:

“Personally, I’m hopeful we can get a decision by end-of-year, but if it goes beyond that, we understand. We understand the primary focus is Beijing and we support that.”

The forthcoming discussions with the IOC staff and the Future Hosts Commission for the Winter Games will help decide that.

Neither Raney Norman or Bullock discussed any further details of a possible budget for a 2030 or 2034 Salt Lake City Winter Games, although it was on the Governing Board agenda. It’s not hard to guess that with Milan Cortina budget forecast at $1.7 billion U.S. for 2026 that the Salt Lake target will be in the vicinity of $2.1 billion.

The IOC’s Host City Contract for 2026 includes payments of $652 million in cash and another $273 million of in-kind services, including host broadcasting ($925 million total). The 2030 agreement should be considerably higher, since the IOC is now in the process of taking over most of the ticketing and hospitality functions of the Games. The 2002 organizers realized about $1.4 billion in marketing revenues.

Back in June, Bullock explained the Committee in an open session about the 2030 vs. 2034 issue vs. the LA28 Games:

“The disadvantage is really just the economics of domestic sponsorship revenue, but we think there’s a strategy to address that.” It appears that this is being solved, if not resolved already. It’s not hard to see the possibilities, such as extensions of LA28-USOPC sponsorships to cover the 2028-30 time frame and then allowing Salt Lake City to pursue full sponsorships of endemic winter categories, for example, snow and ice sport-related equipment, apparel and services.

Both Raney Norman and Bullock emphasized the wide enthusiasm across Utah for the return of the Winter Games, with Bullock pointing to “having unified support is another distinctive element to our bid preparation.”

That’s a key distinction for Salt Lake City vis-a-vis the political turmoil in Spain over the bid from Barcelona and the Pyrenees, the questions about costs that will be raised in Japan over the Sapporo bid for 2030, the security and funding issues in new-to-the-table Ukraine and what the costs will be for Vancouver, site of the successful 2020 Games. The IOC knows all about this.

Salt Lake City shows ready and it will respectfully make a forceful presentation in late November with the IOC. Look for a USOPC announcement of a bid for 2030 in December and then you’ll know the IOC is ready to play ball.

Rich Perelman

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