Gov. Spencer Cox couldn’t say enough Tuesday about a new Deseret News/Hinckley Institute of Politics poll showing 79% of Utahns support hosting the 2034 Winter Games.

“That’s unheard of. It’s unparalleled. I don’t think that 79% of Americans or Utahns agree that the sky is blue right now, and yet we agree on this,” Cox told members of the Utah Legislature’s Olympic and Paralympic Coordination Committee Tuesday, the day before International Olympic Committee leaders will decide if there will be a final vote on he state’s bid in July.

Poll shows Utahns strongly support hosting the 2034 Winter Games. Here are the latest numbers.

Utah was named the IOC’s preferred host for 2034 late last year under a new selection process. Wednesday, the IOC Executive Board will review the findings from a site visit in April before determining if the full membership should be asked to name the state as the 2034 host, a vote that would take place in Paris on July 24, Pioneer Day in Utah.

“I know people have said, ‘Well, you’re the only one bidding.’ The reason we’re the only bid that’s viable right now isn’t because other places didn’t want to. They did,” Cox said. “Lots of other cities wanted this. But they didn’t have the political support necessary.”

Sen. Mike McKell, R-Spanish Fork, the co-chairman of the legislative oversight committee told the Deseret News after the meeting that’s the message lawmakers wanted to send to the IOC, “to make sure it was clear that both the executive branch and the legislative branch were very supportive of the Games. I think we join the public.”

A motion made by the committee’s other co-chairman, Rep. Jon Hawkins, R-Pleasant Grove, expressing support for the Salt Lake City-Utah Committee for the Games and the governor to move forward with the bid based on seeing a draft of the host contract, passed unanimously without debate.

Here's how much a 2034 Winter Olympics in Utah would cost

It’s the governor who would sign the contract on behalf of the state, guaranteeing that Utahns will cover the cost of the Games should the planned private funding for the $2.83 billion event fall through. Both McKell and Hawkins said after the meeting the budget and other bid details released this week make them confident that won’t happen.

A member of the committee, Rep. Kera Birkeland, R-Morgan, asked bid committee officials whether the Games could be put on without taxpayer dollars.

“I have been pelted with a hundred questions after the articles yesterday saying this won’t cost taxpayers any money. How true can that really be,” Birkeland said, calling that a massive concern, especially given the tax increases approved by lawmakers last session to help bring National Hockey League and Major League Baseball teams to Utah.

“There’s a lot of people that love athletics more than me probably and they’re like, ‘Whoa, whoa, whoa.’ With everything that’s going on in Utah right now with athletics, ballparks, hockey, all that, now we’re looking at Olympics,” she said. “How many more tax dollars might go to this?”

Fraser Bullock, the bid committee’s president and CEO, said the 2002 Winter Games were staged without tax dollars. He served as the chief operating officer of the 2002 organizing committee, which also depended on revenues largely from the sale of sponsorships, broadcast right and tickets.

“We already did it before in 2002 and we had a $76 million surplus and yet it was completely privately financed,” Bullock said, noting organizers then also repaid the $59 million taxpayers had spent to build venues including the Utah Olympic Park near Park City. “Not only was every dollar paid back, we stood on our own two feet.”


The $2.83 billion price tag announced Monday is roughly the same as was spent in 2002, adjusted for inflation, he said. But the budget for 2034 includes contingency funds that add up to $460 million, “a significant amount of money, far more than we had in 2002,” Bullock said, pledging organizers would not spend more than they can bring in.

“We know how to manage these costs,” he said, adding that a 2034 Olympics, which would have 40% more competitions than 22 years ago, offers the opportunity for increased revenues. “We can do it. We did it before very successfully.”

Senate Minority Leader Luz Escamilla, D-Salt Lake City, said taxpayers want to see transparency when it comes to the Olympics, something that she said the legislative committee can provide.

Utah’s last Olympics were successful, Escailla said, and “we expect the same, and bigger. I think we have a record to do this. We just need to make sure the taxpayers feel that they are included, that they understand what’s happening.” She added that will “keep the excitement. People want to see this. They want their children to participate like generations did before.”

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