Region woos games |

Region woos games

Susan Wood, Tahoe Daily Tribune

As the 2002 Winter Olympics kick off today, organizers trying to bring the Games to the Reno-Tahoe region in 2014 or 2018 are taking incremental steps.

Jim VandenHeuvel of the Nevada Commission on Sports is headed to Salt Lake City with research and development in mind.

He’s also toured the Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs, Colo., a few times in the last six months.

VandenHeuvel’s “guardedly optimistic” about securing the Games to the area.

It may be an uphill battle.

Salt Lake is only the third American city chosen to host the Winter Olympics.

“The best way to pursue this thing is going out after funds (once) we see Salt Lake City,” VandenHeuvel said. “This is going to be the barometer to hosting the Games in the U.S. There’s no substitute for being there and seeing it on the front end.”

With heightened security in light of Sept. 11, the U.S. Olympic Committee yanked VandenHeuvel’s special credentials as a representative for a candidate city.

He’s attending as a guest of the Coca-Cola Bottling Co., one of the primary sponsors of the 2002 Games.

After witnessing the Salt Lake Games in action, the Nevada Commission on Sports will submit a feasibility study to the U.S. Olympic Committee. It traditionally chooses its host city 11 years prior to the year of the event. The International Olympic Committee makes its choice seven years prior.

The sports commission plans to host a forum to discuss the project.

Reno and Lake Tahoe tourism officials have expressed the desire to host the Olympics for reasons that are two-fold.

There’s the obvious tourism dollars associated with hosting an event of this magnitude. Moreover, it prompts infrastructure improvements that last long after the event.

Commission Chairman Jerry Cail has mentioned the desire to have a $41 million arena built north of Reno for hockey and ice skating events.

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