Q: Why is Denver interested in hosting an Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games?
A: We’re interested in learning if and how hosting an Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games could benefit Denver and the State of Colorado, which is why we’re conducting this exploratory process and engaging the community in this conversation.
Hosting the Games creates economic growth and investment opportunities that can help improve a city and state long after closing ceremonies. For instance, Olympic villages could provide affordable housing opportunities, and hosting the Games could provide the opportunity to receive non-local-tax base revenue to help solve transportation congestion issues getting to and from the mountains along I-70.
Additionally, the values of the Olympic Games that were created more than 100 years ago resonate in our community and throughout the world – today more than ever. Those values include men and women competing equally, diversity and equality, clean sport and peace through sport.
Q: How could hosting an Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games help improve Denver and Colorado?
A: Cities that host the Olympic Games typically use that as an opportunity to jump-start civic projects that are needed regardless of hosting the Games by utilizing funding from the International Olympic Committee (IOC) and federal government to help support those projects financially. For example, issues that have challenged Denver and cities throughout the state such as affordable housing and congestion along the I-70 mountain corridor could be addressed.
As we explore the feasibility of hosting the Games, it is important to know if the Olympics and Paralympics would leave a legacy for Denver and Colorado. Every Olympic Games hosted in the United States since 1960 has generated a surplus against its operating budget and not left the host city with financial debt.
Q: Which Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games is Denver interested in hosting?
A: At this point, the exploratory committee is simply determining whether it is feasible for Denver to submit a bid for an Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games. If we determine it is, we’ll work with the United States Olympic Committee (USOC) and the International Olympic Committee (IOC) to determine what timeframe makes the most sense. The USOC is the only entity that can determine whether to submit a U.S. bid for the Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games, and if they decide to do so – and we determine it is a good idea for Denver and Colorado – we want to be ready.
Q: What would an Olympic Winter Games cost Colorado taxpayers?
A: Mayor Hancock has tasked the exploratory committee with identifying ways for the Games to be financed privately, while still meeting all the requirements of the International Olympic Committee (IOC).
The cost of an Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games in Denver and Colorado could be approximately $2 billion, and the IOC would contribute about half of that cost based on Agenda 2020. Agenda 2020 is a new strategic roadmap for the Olympic Games, which embodies a new philosophy for hosting that supports economic, social and environmental long-term planning needs.
Q: Where would the events take place? How many venues would have to be built?
A: The exploratory committee is still exploring where each event would take place. Our initial evaluation has determined there are only three venues that would be needed to host a Winter Games that don’t already exist throughout Denver and Colorado.
One important factor the exploratory committee is considering when determining potential venues is sustainability. Unlike recent Olympic and Paralympic Games host cities, Denver isn’t interested in building new venues just for the Games. Instead, the exploratory committee wants to find ways to maximize the infrastructure investments that Denver has already made and to supplement with temporary venues that could either be recycled, sold or used elsewhere following the Games.
Q: Can Denver really accommodate all the visitors that attend an Olympic and Paralympic Games?
A: Yes. Denver is a highly respected destination for conventions and other major events based on our strong infrastructure that includes abundant hotel rooms, a world-class airport and our award-winning public transportation system. In the past decade, we have hosted major events like the Democratic National Convention, which are as large in scope as the Olympic and Paralympic Games.
For example, the highest nightly room needs during an Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games would be approximately 11,000, which is less than the number of room nights that were required during the Democratic National Convention (17,000) in Denver. Additionally, as a regional event, not all accommodations for the Games would be within the city of Denver.
It is estimated that an Olympic Winter Games would attract about 595,000 ticketed spectators and accredited stakeholders over the 17-day event in Denver and the mountains. The National Western Stock Show, in comparison, attracted about 705,000 ticketed spectators over the 16-day event in Denver in 2018.
The Olympic Winter Games would likely attract about 60,000 people for closing ceremonies. Comparatively, more than 200,000 people convened in the City of Denver on the Friday of this past Labor Day weekend for the CU-CSU football game, the Colorado Rockies game and Taste of Colorado.
Q: Colorado voters rejected the 1976 Olympic Winter Games. What has changed since then?
A: Colorado voters made the decision 46 years ago not to fund the Olympic Games because of worries about taxpayer expense and environmental impact -- two factors the exploratory committee is considering as they evaluate if Denver and Colorado should host a future Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games.
A lot has changed in Denver since 1976. Metro Denver’s population has tripled, while Colorado’s population has doubled. We had one professional sports team, and now have seven. We had 10,000 hotel rooms, and now have 23,000 in Denver, with 47,000 metro-wide.
Q: Who is on the exploratory committee and how were they chosen?
A: The exploratory committee represents a broad cross-section of leaders in our community – business, political, sports, civic, etc. The members were chosen by the Mayor of Denver with the support of the Governor of Colorado, as well as other elected officials.
Much of the work of the committee is happening in subcommittees, including the civic and community engagement subcommittee. Part of the process includes engaging Coloradans of all stripes – urban, rural, old, young, wealthy, underserved, newcomers, natives, supporters, opponents – to understand their opinions and concerns.