Forget gold, how much green will 2034 Winter Olympics bring to Utah?

Winter Olympics Salt Lake City
Posted at 1:42 PM, Jul 10, 2024

SALT LAKE CITY — Never mind bronze, silver and gold, newly-released data is all about the green when it comes to how much Utah benefited economically from the 2002 Winter Olympics and Paralympics, and how much the state may gain by hosting again in 2034.

Analysis from the Kem C. Gardner Policy Institute shows the 2002 Games provided the state with $7.5 billion in economic output over the years, far more than what the organizing committee and the federal government spent to host the event.

"It definitely put us on the map," remarked John Downen, a Senior Research Fellow at the Institute.

While Utah opened its doors to the world more than two decades ago, it seems those doors are still open as skier visits and national park tourism are still higher than they were before 2002, data shows.

FOX 13 News previously reported that the actual cost of the 2002 Olympics, when inflated to 2034 values, was $2.84 billion.

"We anticipate again, similar to what was discussed this morning of utilizing the same resource level that we did back in ‘02 for 2034," explained Catherine Raney Norman, Chair of the bid committee and a Team USA Speedskater during the 2002 Games. “The numbers are critical to us hosting the games and making sure that we do it in a responsible manner."

Between now and 2035, just how much revenue could Utah see if officially chosen to host the 2034 games? The Gardner Institute estimates that number at $6.6 billion. If the federal government helps upgrade public transportation or improve highways for the games, Utah could benefit even more.

The operating budget for the 2034 Games is $2.83 billion.

However, Downen acknowledged that the new games could create additional growing pains for Utah.

If the games generate additional population growth in the state like the 2002 games did, then yes, I think you would see additional pressures on housing...affordability and things like that," he said.

Downen added that it's up to legislators to take countermeasures to be proactive about addressing potential issues.

The data was released as a delegation of local officials and athletes prepares to travel to Paris for a final presentation to the International Olympic Committee. Following the presentation, the IOC will take a final vote on who will host the 2034 games.

Though the event will be happening in Paris, Utah leaders are hoping to induce excitement in the state with a free watch party at 3 a.m. as the presentation and final vote happens.