Truckee weighs bid to bring Olympics back to Tahoe
A regional group wants to bring the Olympic Winter Games back to Lake Tahoe in 2018.
The effort to host another winter games in Tahoe is being headed up by the Reno-Tahoe Winter Games Coalition, a bi-state group with members ranging from Lt. Gov. Brian Krolicki to California Assemblyman Ted Gaines.
The coalition discussed the potential benefits to the region of hosting an Olympics at Truckee Town Hall on Tuesday, while some members of the public questioned the potential negative impacts.
“This is not necessarily going to go over with everybody in the Truckee region,” said Jim Simon, attorney with Porter Simon and coalition board member. “But if our bid meets the net-zero impact requirements, my thinking is what is the long-term good for Truckee and Lake Tahoe? This is not what will people of Truckee accept, this is what this can do for Truckee.”
Among the potential benefits are increased revenue and improved infrastructure, said Jim Vanden Heuvel, chief executive officer for the coalition.
“It’s the things that make the process worthwhile, even if we don’t win the bid – it put $1.5 billion into Salt Lake City,” Vanden Heuvel said. “It also had a catalyzing effect on the roads. Salt Lake City went from number 75 to No.1 priority for federal road projects.”
Ski resort business after the Salt Lake winter games went up by 40 percent for the following two years as well, Vanden Heuvel said.
But some in the audience were concerned about what a modern Olympics would do to the area.
“Truckee is a small, quiet mountain town, and for some, the only thing worse than a four-ring circus called the Olympics are the four-ring circuses of world cup events that would follow,” said John Eaton of the Mountain Area Preservation Foundation.
Similar concerns exist in Squamish, British Columbia, a town similar in size to Truckee halfway between the Vancouver and Whistler venues of the 2010 Vancouver Winter Games.
“There is an incredible amount of development coming in with the Olympics, which is worrisome for the community,” said Sylvie Paillard, editor of the Squamish Chief newspaper in a phone interview Wednesday.
She said that while the business community has been in favor of the games, residents have been more reserved.
“People are quite divided, but it hasn’t become passionate yet,” Paillard said.
Meanwhile, Vanden Heuvel said the two biggest challenges for the Truckee-Tahoe area would be environment and transportation, which he said go hand-in-hand.
“We can’t let people drive to Truckee and drive to the venues, we would be busing and using trains from either side of the hill,” he said.
To minimize environmental impacts to the lake, no events would take place within the Tahoe Basin, Vanden Heuvel said.
In the end, audience members wanted more information on the proposal, something Vanden Heuvel said would come out in the creation of the bid over the next year.
“The national bid for 2018 is decided in 2009, and then goes international in 2011,” he said. “What are our chances? We don’t know, but we are moving forward regardless.”
Reno-Tahoe Olympic strengths
Proponents of a Reno-Tahoe Winter Olympics list the region’s strengths as:
– The largest concentration of world-class winter resorts in the world.
– Proximate venues – only 67 miles between farthest sites.
– Existing infrastructure from casinos for technology and broadcast.
– Double the hotel rooms Salt Lake City had for Olympic Games.
– Strong tourism draws.
– Transportation infrastructure from airport to railroad.
2018 competing bids
– Almaty, Kazakhstan
– Annecy, France
– Borjomi, Bakuriani
– Denver, USA
– Grenoble, France
– Munich, Germany
– Pyeong Chang, South Korea
– Salt Lake City, USA
– Tromsoe, Norway
Winter Olympic schedule:
1998: Nagano, Japan
2002: Salt Lake City, USA
2006: Turin, Italy
2010: Vancouver, Canada
2014: Sochi, Russia
On the Net
Reno-Tahoe Winter Games Coalition: