Recent reports have indicated Colorado may have an outside shot at landing the 2026 or 2030 Winter Olympics, and one would think that as an Eagle-Vail resident and someone who’s covered three Winter Olympic Games — working for two different organizing committees — I’d be in favor of such a bid.
One would be wrong.
As an Olympic “insider,” I’ve seen the utter waste of the Games up close and personal — and that was before Vladimir Putin made a $50-billion, doping-factory mockery of the Olympic movement in 2014.
I’ve written extensively about Colorado’s checkered Olympic history — from actually landing the 1976 Games to later rejecting them to current attempts to lure the Winter Games back to the Centennial State. And nothing has changed.
All the best venues in Colorado are at least 75 miles away from Denver over roads that often shut down for hours at a time during the winter months. Salt Lake City is much closer to its venues and has all the infrastructure in place after hosting the Games as recently as 2002.
Former Gov. Dick Lamm, who led the charge against the 76 Games, was/is right. The Olympics will just further congest an already overwhelmed state that’s seems perennially unable to tax itself for even the most basic transportation maintenance and upgrades.
Hate to say it, but unless a Colorado bid came with massive federal infrastructure funding to fix the I-70 mess, we should take our name out of the running right now. And given that Colorado was carried by Hillary Clinton in 2016, what are the chances that Trump would send a bunch of funding our way over deep-red Utah?
The only way state leaders should even consider getting behind a Colorado bid is if it somehow gives the Hyperloop One project a public-private funding boost. Similarly, Amazon should only be publicly incentivized to add massive congestion to Denver if the company helps RTD flesh out its light-rail network along the Front Range — including finally finishing the Denver to Boulder line.
But I realize that’s not how these things work. Massive corporations like Amazon, and massive corporate boondoggles like the Winter Games, are in the collective business of fleecing taxpayers — not being part of progressive and truly innovative infrastructure solutions.
After a Denver Post report on Wednesday, the Vail Daily came out very strongly against any sort of Denver Olympic bid, but I’ve been beating the anti-Olympic drum for years. Only support the Games if they bring positive change to Colorado. Otherwise, stay home and watch them on TV while some other city spends billions on a bunch of useless new stadiums.