Flicker of interest to bring Olympics to Tahoe | TahoeDailyTribune.com

Flicker of interest to bring Olympics to Tahoe

Susan Wood, Tahoe Daily Tribune

The long-term impact of the August blackout in New York City may have rippled west to the Lake Tahoe Basin.

That’s because organizers working on making the Reno-Tahoe region the host for the 2014 Winter Olympics believe the Big Apple’s chances of being the host city in 2012 for the summer Olympics may have been squelched by the power outage.

“We feel the blackout hurt New York City,” said Jim Vanden Heuvel, Reno Tahoe Winter Games Coalition spokesman, addressing the South Lake Tahoe Chamber of Commerce during its monthly meeting at Tahoe Seasons Resort on Thursday.

There’s a strategy behind the bidding process.

The International Olympic Committee tends to spread the wealth and benefits of the Olympic Games among countries, leaning away from sending the humanitarian event to the same nation in back-to-back years — even though different cities are involved.

New York City is vying to get the Games in 2012, competing with London and Paris. The Nevada Commission on Sports chairman has spearheaded a drive to bring the event here in 2014.

Nearby Vancouver, B.C. will host the 2010 games.

The IOC select a site by 2007. Bids are due two years prior. If the coalition loses on its 2014 bid, it’s open to going for 2018.

“You have to be in the game to win,” he said.

Vanden Heuvel thinks Tahoe and Reno are ripe for the taking since the 1960 Winter Games at Squaw Valley.

“Part of the strength of having the Reno-Tahoe games is domestically (in the U.S.) there’s no one else left who can handle them,” Vanden Heuvel told the chamber board.

The sports advocate thinks the Reno region’s chances are good because the Sierra Nevada mountains have the majesty of world-renowned slopes.

Detailed plans of the infrastructure must be in place, requiring the approval of the Tahoe Regional Planning Agency. No formal request has been submitted to the basin’s regulatory agency.

The coalition has circulated a feasibility study in its efforts to drum up support for the quest to host the games. Vanden Heuvel has come before chambers of commerce in Sacramento, Reno-Sparks and Truckee.

South Lake Tahoe’s board wants to mull over the proposal, deciding to bring the idea to the executive committee. President Ken Daley expects the board will determine whether to officially back the coalition’s efforts at its meeting in October.

Mike Riley of the Tahoe-Douglas Chamber of Commerce pledged the support of the business group based in the Stateline casino corridor.

Land use consultant Gary Midkiff said the chamber needs to have “broad-based support.”

The group stressed how environmental advocates such as TRPA, Sierra Club and League to Save Lake Tahoe would need to sign off on such a large-scale event.

“That’s going to be our biggest hurdle,” South Lake Tahoe City Councilman Tom Davis said.

The environment and transportation present the most pressing issues. A mass transit system will need to be in place, most people say.

Despite the far-reaching goals, the board made it clear that when the community gets behind a cause there’s no stopping it.

In 2002, the city hosted a large party when the Salt Lake-based Olympic torch traveled through the basin that January.

Community business leaders insisted on having a steadfast commitment to the goal from Tahoe’s citizens as well as Reno’s.

“This is the area it could be successful if the infrastructure is put in place,” said Blaise Carrig, Heavenly Ski Resort chief operating officer.

— Susan Wood can be reached at (530) 542-8009 or via e-mail at swood@tahoedailytribune.com

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