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USOC to tour Utah Olympic facilities Wednesday as part of bid process for future Winter Games

FILE - Fireworks explode during closing Salt Lake 2002 Winter Olympic Games Closing ceremonies Sunday, Feb 24, 2002 at the Rice-Eccles Stadium.
FILE - Fireworks explode during closing Salt Lake 2002 Winter Olympic Games Closing ceremonies Sunday, Feb 24, 2002 at the Rice-Eccles Stadium.
Scott G. Winterton, Deseret News

SALT LAKE CITY — U.S. Olympic Committee officials will be in Utah next Wednesday to conduct a site visit as part of the process for selecting an American city to bid for a future Winter Games, likely by the end of the year.

"It's going to be a busy, busy day," said Utah Sports Commission President and CEO Jeff Robbins, a leader of Utah's Olympic Exploratory Committee that recommended earlier this year the state go after another Winter Games.

Robbins said Friday there's a lot on the agenda for the visit, including stops at 2002 Winter Games venues such as the Utah Olympic Park, where the bobsled, luge and skeleton track and ski jumps continue to be used for training and competition.

A midday luncheon with Gov. Gary Herbert and Salt Lake City Mayor Jackie Biskupski is planned at the University of Utah's Rice-Eccles Stadium, site of the 2002 opening and closing ceremonies.

"We did it before and we can do it again. And we did it better than anybody's done it, so why not try it one more time," the governor told the Deseret News Friday when asked what his message would be to the USOC officials.

Herbert noted the city's new international airport under construction and venues from 2002 that need only "a little sprucing up here and there. We can do it for a lot less money. We are becoming the crossroads of the world."

The governor said "taking politics out of it, there is really no better site or location to host a Winter Olympics than here in the Salt Lake City area." Utahns, he said, "are looking forward to that opportunity."

Salt Lake City is competing against Denver and the Reno-Tahoe area to be named by the USOC as America's choice for an as-yet unnamed Winter Games, likely for 2030.

USOC spokesman Patrick Sandusky, said the "upcoming visit to Utah is a continuation of our monthslong process to identify a city and region that may one day bid for the Winter Games."

Besides site visits to all three cities, the USOC is also expected to conduct polling in each to determine public support for hosting a Winter Games. The cities also were required to complete an extensive questionnaire about their plans by Friday.

Salt Lake City is spending around $50,000 from private sources to bid, Robbins has said.

The exploratory committee set the overall price tag for hosting another Olympics at just over $1.35 billion, less than in 2002, because facilities are already in place. Lawmakers have committed $40 million toward upgrades over the next decade.

"It's really ours to lose," Biskupski said at a recent exploratory committee meeting. But the mayor, who heads up an executive committee with outgoing Senate President Wayne Niederhauser, also said nothing is being taken for granted.

"We are excited to show members of the USOC the state of winter sports here," Biskupski said Friday. "I'm confident the delegation will see that with improvements to our existing Games infrastructure, plus new amenities like the international airport and upcoming convention center hotel, Salt Lake City is more than capable of hosting a future successful Games."