Utah economy

Despite strong polls, a second Olympics could be a tough sell for some Utahns

The Salt Lake City-Utah Committee for the Games continues to aim for a second Olympics in 2030 or 2034, but some are expressing concerns about the negative impacts the event could have.

In 2002, the greater Park City area hosted alpine and cross-country skiing, freestyle skiing, ski jumping, biathlon, snowboarding, as well as skeleton, luge and bobsleigh events. It would likely host a similar number of events again at future Winter Games.

So the Summit County and Park City governments have launched a series of listening events aimed at gathering community feedback on the prospect of other Utah Olympics. During the first meeting of the tour, which was held in Kamas, the atmosphere was mixed at the idea of ​​an encore.

“[The 2002 Olympics] seemed to throw gasoline on a fire that was already smoldering to housing, to development,” said Kamas resident Doug Fryer, who also worked in emergency services during the 2002 games.

The region has experienced soaring housing prices during the last years. It also has constant traffic problems during the winter season, thanks in part to the popular nearby resorts of Park City Mountain and Deer Valley. Concerns about the effect of the Olympics on housing affordability and availability, traffic and transportation were at the forefront of people’s concerns.

High school student Emily Rodriguez hadn’t even been born when the Olympics came to Utah in 2002 and said that while the prospect of hosting an Olympics in her hometown is exciting, she’s also some hesitation. After a recent school project, she now worries about the impact the Olympics could have on those who are already struggling to pay their rent.

“I had to investigate community issues and housing was the biggest issue we had,” she said. “It’s a bit concerning, especially with the Hispanics in the community who don’t know much about the Olympic situation.”

According to Park City Municipal, nearly 9,000 people commuting from outside the community to work each day.

Despite concerns in Summit County, a recent Deseret News/Hinckley Institute of Politics poll show that 79% of Utahns approve of the Olympics returning to the state.

While Fryer has reservations about staging a Game 2, he also thinks this could be an opportunity for Utah to tackle those lingering issues head-on.

“These issues still exist, but I think this is an opportunity to show that we can do it right,” he said.

Park City and Summit County will be collecting community feedback until October 6. The IOC recently announced that it is postponing its decision on the host of the 2030 Games until next fall.

Mary Cashion

The author Mary Cashion