You are hereForty years later, Denver begins its quest to bring the Winter Olympics back to the Mile High City.
Forty years later, Denver begins its quest to bring the Winter Olympics back to the Mile High City.
In 1972, Colorado voters rushed to the ballot boxes to vote for a new President. But more important locally, they were voting to decide the fate of the 1976 Olympic Games that was awarded to the city three years prior.
With over a 60-40 margin of vote, the voters voted against giving the Denver Organizing Committee the public funding needed to host the Games. Consequently, Denver became the first –and still only-- city to return the Olympic Games back to the International Olympic Committee (IOC).
“It was civic leaders and buddies who used to meet at the Denver Country Club for golf, drinks, and that is where the idea was hatched and it sort of grew from there,” says Larry Zimmer, who made a career working around sports.
Zimmer was inducted to the Colorado Sports Hall of Fame in 2010 and is currently the analyst for KOA broadcasts of Colorado Buffaloes' football. He insists the idea was fatally flawed from the start, and the execution of it proved that.
“It was poorly planned and they were very unresponsive to the citizens, environmental groups were saying 'What is this going to do to us?'...One of the things I’ll never forget was the plan to have the biathlon course on the grounds of Bergen Park Junior High School. Just the idea of shooting a rifle around there...these were the kind of problems they ran into,” says Zimmer.
Forty years later, Colorado leaders such as Denver Mayor Michael Hancock and Governor John Hickenlooper have formed a twenty-two member committee to explore a bid to bring the 2022 Winter Olympics to Colorado.
Denver would compete nationally against Salt Lake City, who hosted the 2002 Games, and a joint bid from Reno-Tahoe. The prospect of the Games coming to Colorado excites current student and CU Snowboard team member Sam Bell.
“Being that a lot of the athletes that compete in the Winter Games are from Colorado, I feel the Games would bring a sense of acceptiveness (sic) to Colorado.” says Bell.
A consulting firm told the committee it would take nearly a $1.5 Billion investment to build the infrastructure needed to host the Games. Such improvements include increasing the capacity of I-70 to handle the traffic to and from events in the Mountains. The state must also be able to secure water needed to make snow, since February in Colorado is one of the least snowy months of the ski season.
But Zimmer insists there is one more major obstacle Colorado needs to overcome:
“The IOC is not gonna forget that Denver is the only city that had the games, to turn them back.”
Denver has to hope, time heals all wounds.
For a list of committee members click here.