A 2034 Winter Games in Utah would have a $6.6 billion economic impact on the state over the coming decade, down from what was generated when the state last hosted an Olympics more than 22 years ago largely because much of what’s needed is already in place.

That’s according to a new, eight-page report by the University of Utah’s Kem C. Gardner Policy Institute released Wednesday, ahead of the International Olympic Committee’s final decision on whether Salt Lake City will host another Olympics, a vote scheduled to be held in Paris on July 24, Utah’s Pioneer Day.

The legacy left by hosting the 2002 Winter Games, especially the continued use of the competition venues including the Utah Olympic Park’s sliding track and ski jumps, was a focus of much of an hourlong panel discussion about the findings, held at Wednesday morning at the Thomas S. Monson Center.

Gardner Institute director Natalie Gochnour moderates a panel discussion on “Potential Economic Impacts of the 2034 Olympic and Paralympic Games,” with John Downen, Kem C. Gardner Policy Institute senior research fellow, Brett Hopkins, Salt Lake City-Utah Committee for the Games CFO/COO, Catherine Raney Norman, Salt Lake City-Utah Committee for the Games chairman, and Colin Hilton, Utah Olympic Legacy Foundation CEO, at the Kem C. Gardner Policy Institute newsmaker breakfast, hosted by the Kem C. Gardner Institute, in Salt Lake City on Wednesday, July 10, 2024. | Kristin Murphy, Deseret News

The legacy of the 2002 Winter Games

“It feels to me that the road to 2034 really starts with 2002,” Natalie Gochnour, the policy institute’s director and the moderator of the panel. Gochnour described the state’s longtime efforts to ensure the venues would remain in use post-Games as “vintage Utah.”

The report pointed out the amount of capital investment needed to stage another Olympics in the state would be “modest,” crediting the “stewardship” of the Utah Legislature, which has appropriated a total of $94.6 million in recent years towards keeping them up and running.

Here’s how much money Utah taxpayers are spending on the state’s Olympic venues

That’s helped build strong support for bring a Games back to Utah, said Catherine Raney Norman, chair of the Salt Lake City-Utah Committee for the Games that’s behind the bid. The latest Deseret News/Hinckley Institute of Politics poll found 79% of Utahns want to host again in 2034, similar to past survey results.

“I think a lot of that is driven by our legacy, by our legacy venues and the fact that we really, truly invite the community in,” Raney Norman said, adding that providing opportunities for the public to use the venues rather than reserving them for elite athletes allows Utahns to “feel a sense of belonging.”

Colin Hilton, the CEO of the Utah Olympic Legacy Foundation that oversees key venues, said Utah has always viewed the Olympics as not just a single sporting event but a “living legacy.” Venues support top-level athletes but he said more importantly, they’re also “community recreation centers so they’re focused on our youth development and our ability to engage in communities.”

Emily Pan, age 5, practices figure skating at the Utah Olympic Oval in Kearns on Wednesday, July 10, 2024. | Kristin Murphy, Deseret News

No new permanent venues are planned for 2034, so organizers would spend just over $31 million on permanent capital investments such as new shading for the sliding track this time around, compared to almost $287 million (in 2023 dollars) for the 2002 Games, according to the report.

That difference helped raise the economic impact of the 2002 Games to approximately $7.5 billion.

The estimated $6.6. billion economic impact from a 2034 Games would be sparked by still “significant” new spending, estimated to add up to $4.1 billion. That number drops to $2.6 billion when adjusted for purchases made from companies located out of state and the regular skier visits that would be displaced by the Olympics and Paralympics.

Here’s how to celebrate a 2034 Winter Games coming to Utah

Both local and state governments would end up collecting more than they spend, the report concluded. Local entities could expect $138.1 million in new revenues and $108.8 million in expenditures, netting $29.3 million. At the state level, revenues would be $167.2 million and expenditures, $146.2 million, for a net of $21 million.

Another Games would bring more than 42,000 job years of employment to the state, with a job year defined as one job for one year, along with $2.5 billion in personal income and almost $3.9 billion in state gross domestic product, according to the report.

That’s compared to 45,700 job years of employment and $3.7 billion in personal income from hosting in 2002, according to the report. A previous analysis by the policy institute had estimated the economic impact of hosting another Olympics in 2030 at $3.9 billion.

Risks of hosting another Winter Games in Utah

The bid committee recently released a $2.83 billion budget for a 2034 Winter Games, which rises to almost $4 billion when money for a post-Games legacy and revenues shared with the U.S. Olympic and Paralympic Committee are included. All of the funds would be privately raised, largely from the sale of sponsorships, broadcast rights and tickets.

Here’s who is in the Utah delegation who will travel to the Paris Olympics for a decision on the 2034 Winter Games

Brett Hopkins, the chief operating and financial officer for the bid who served as CFO for the 2002 Games, acknowledged there are risks to hosting again. The IOC requires a government guarantee that any Games shortfalls will be covered. In Utah, it’s the state that would step up if organizers run into financial trouble, as was the case in 2002.


“Of course we’re taking on risk,” Hopkins said, relying on sponsors and ticket buyers being willing “to support us in a big way” despite changes in he market. And while there’s more than $50 million in the budget to insure the Games, it’s not clear cancellation policies will be available after the COVID-19 pandemic forced the 2020 Summer Games in Tokyo to be delayed a year.

“We’re also taking on the notion that we don’t know what we don’t know as we move forward in this planning on how things are going to evolve,” he said. “You take on that risk because of not just the experience we had in ‘02, but the way that Utah as a whole tackled the Games and worked together and was able to come up with solutions and successes” reflected in the economic impact.

The budget contains both revenue and expense contingency funds, a first for the Olympics, Hopkins said, pointing out that the previous price tag, for a 2030 Winter Games, was updated to reflect the higher cost of hosting four years later ahead of the IOC decision.

“We wanted to put forth a budget that we have confidence that we could say to our partners — and it’s the state of Utah who would be responsible for the overrun, they’re providing the guarantee — that we are confident we can deliver on this budget,” he said. “That’s in our philosophy, that’s our MO.”

Marcus Liu, age 11, practices speed skating with the FAST (Facilitated Athlete Sport Training) team at the Utah Olympic Oval in Kearns on Wednesday, July 10, 2024. | Kristin Murphy, Deseret News
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