Maybe a forgotten piece of Colorado history is how the state was awarded the 1976 Winter Olympics. It had appeared that the state was ready to be the host for the sporting event, but some were concerned about the impact the games would have. Coloradans pointed to the impact the games would have on the environment, and it eventually turned down the games due to a campaign led by state representative Richard Douglas Lamm.
When the 1976 Winter Olympics were turned down, Denver became the only city in history to do so after being awarded the Olympics. Fast forward to decades later, and Colorado has assembled a group of civic and community leaders who will determine if Colorado should place a bid for the Winter Olympics.
“The Olympics and Paralympic Winter Games present the opportunity for our community to evaluate the economic and social costs and benefits of bringing world-class athletes from around the world to our city, region and state in spirit of competition, friendship and fair play,” Denver Mayor Michael Hancock said. “Colorado is already a world-class destination for winter sports. This exploratory committee will determine if it is in Denver’s and the state’s best interests to pursue a bid, and whether there is strong community-based support for the effort.”
Rob Cohen is the chairman and CEO of the IMA Financial Group, and he will chair the Olympic exploratory committee. The committee will review a number of factors to determine what opportunities the Olympics would bring to Denver. It will review things like venue requirements, private financing, environmental impacts and other factors.
Following the committee’s investigation, it will present its findings to Mayor Hancock and Colorado Governor John Hickenlooper. If the Winter Olympics were to be held in Colorado, then it would be during the 2030 games.
“I’m enthused to have the opportunity to showcase all that Denver and this region have to offer as a potential host to an Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games. Billions of dollars in infrastructure have already been invested in our community – from our airport to our public transportation system to venues ranging from arenas to ski areas – and it will be interesting to determine if they can be adapted to hosting the Games,” Cohen said.
Hosting the Olympics would be exciting for a city like Denver, but it is difficult to evaluate the economic impact the games would have on the city. Victor Matheson, an economist at the College of Holy Cross in Massachusetts compared hosting the Olympics to a wedding in an interview with the New York Times.
“(Hosting the Olympics is) like a wedding. It won’t make you rich, but it may make you happy,” Matheson told the New York Times.