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City bid to host 2022 Olympics: New arena will be a factor

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As Sacramento prepares to bid to host the 2022 Winter Olympic games, having the right venues on offer – such as a new entertainment and sports complex – will be a key factor to a successful bid.

Representatives from the California Winter Games Committee reported to the City Council Tuesday about progress the committee is making to join the bidding process to become a host city.

The committee is a volunteer group composed of both state and local civic, business and labor leaders and is working in conjunction with a similar committee from the Lake Tahoe area.

Jake Mossawir, chief financial officer for the CWGC, said the group has been polling residents, researching historical data and reviewing similar bid process efforts to raise awareness about the prospect of hosting the Winter Games in this region.

One of the key pieces of information the committee considered, Mossawir said, was an assessment of local venues – including the possibility of a new entertainment and sports complex located at the downtown railyards.

“The benefits of a future Winter Games would be more fully realized with an entertainment and sports complex – one that supports the major ice sports – namely ice hockey and figure skating,” Mossawir said Tuesday.

“It’s a huge undertaking,” City Councilman Rob Fong said Tuesday. “I think everyone on the Nevada side understands that the only way for this to work is to be a California-Nevada joint effort.”

If the Lake Tahoe/Sacramento bid is successful, it will be the first time the Winter Games have been to the Sierras since 1960 in Squaw Valley – and the first time they have been in the United States since 2002 in Salt Lake City.

Jim Rinehart, economic development director, told council members that the employment impact of a future Winter Games in the region would be significant.

Some local industries that would see the greatest benefit from a Winter Games include arts and entertainment, recreation and retail trades, Rinehart said.

But, by far, food and accommodations – comprising a large number of workers in the travel and tourism industry – is expected to benefit the most with more than 106,000 jobs, he added.

Overall, Rinehart said, more than 170,000 full-time jobs could be created between 2017 and 2027 – the time period before, during and after the games.

Rinehart said competing cities vying for the games work many years before a selection is made, and “much work” would be necessary to make this region ready for the games.

“We don’t have many mountains here in Sacramento,” Fong said, “so we aren’t likely going to host downhill (ski) races. But, we could certainly host a number of (ice) rink events if we have the facilities for them.”

Fong said that, as the City Council considers the design of a new entertainment and sports complex, the prospect of making the facility usable for Olympic events should definitely be part of the plan.

“We need to have the associated services around the facility, too,” he added. “(The games) would be something big for the region.”

Mossawir said that projects under way at the railyards and the River District would be boosted by the city serving as a central hub for the games.

The region would still benefit from hosting the Olympics without a major venue in the city, Mossawir said, but it would be much less.

“It (is) a question of whether or not we want to be a stop on the way to the games or if we want to be a destination city that houses major Olympic contests,” he said.

Both the California Winter Games Committee and its sister committee in Nevada are working together with the goal of hosting the games in California with Lake Tahoe as the hub, bringing a region-wide benefit, according to a June 2011 press release.

The group has until the end of the year to make its final pitch to the U.S. Olympic Committee, which will make its selection from among all the American city contenders to send to the International Olympic Committee.

The IOC will select a final bid by 2015 – the same year the proposed entertainment and sports complex would be completed if plans are finalized by the City Council.

Denver and Salt Lake City are the other cities in the western region vying for the United States’ nomination bid.

The U.S. bid for the 2012 Games in New York was lost to London, and the bid for the 2016 Games in Chicago was lost to Rio de Janeiro.

Mossawir said the California Winter Games Committee will release in-depth viability reports in the next few weeks, followed by another update report to the City Council.

Melissa Corker is a staff reporter for The Sacramento Press. Follow her on Twitter @MelissaCorker.


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  • Ben Ilfeld

    I’m a winter sports fanatic. I’ve been to the last three Winter Olympics: Salt Lake, Torino and Vancouver. I think this region can make a credible bid if we work together with Tahoe and Reno.

    And for those who have not been, I should note that the demands of the Winter Games require regional partnerships at this point. Whistler is 2.5 hours away from Vancouver. Torino was spread out over a huge distance (sometimes we would take 3 hours worth of buses to get to an event). Salt Lake was relatively compact with almost everything within an hour drive, but the games have also grown in popularity since then.

    That’s just to say that a city like Sacramento participating is not outlandish, but rather becoming the norm for this event.

    • Thanks for dreaming big, Ben–Sacramento could use more of it, and you (and those working on this) will certainly meet a lot of resistance and condescension from many Sacramentans–it’s a part of our heritage for some reason. I won’t support this if it’s ultimately economically unsound, just as I’m watching the arena talk very carefully for the same reason, but if it looks like it makes economic sense and is viable I’m on board and excited at the possibility. Wanted to emphasize I appreciate people working on their dream of doing this and, again, thinking big and going for it.

  • This is a pipe dream, timed to help build momentum for KJ’s arena. I’m sure KJ will use the Olympics as part of his rationale when voting for this from here on out. When some other city wins the bid, he’ll say it was worth it anyway.

    What a dumb reason for this arena. Someone, please make it stop.

    • Ben Ilfeld

      That is not the reason to build an arena and the Olympic bid is quite serious – the bid is not tied to Johnson in any way. There have been dedicated people working on this project for some time.

      the link between the arena and the bid is not causal in either direction. These are separate issues that could be mutually beneficial.

  • Sacramento doesn’t deserve to host the Olympics. Americans in general need to give up on hosting the Olympics. It makes us more self-centered than we already are.

    • I suppose something along the lines like Berlin 1936 (or Bejing 2008) was more to your liking, eh?

      Keep on whistling past the national graveyard.

  • It seems like America gets the Winter Games about every 20 years. If that trend continues we have a good chance for the 2022 games. Denver is the only other bidder competing against us. This bid is no joke. Why not support a bid for the winter games? Go big or go home. We are talking about billions of revenue here.

    • nolongerinsac

      Denver is much better suited to hold the Winter Olympics. Has anyone even considered the transportation infrastructure necessary to host the athletes and visitors. Sure the new Terminal B is nice, but it in no way compares to Denver International Airport. Also, when it snows you consistently need chains to get up the 50 or the 80 and the roads back up with the traffic that already exists. Is the proposed plan going to include funds for widening those freeways? Plus, Denver could host the opening and closing ceremonies at Mile High Stadium and already has a first-class arena in the Pepsi Center. Even if Sacramento builds a new stadium for the Kings where would they hold the other stuff, Hornet Stadium?

      This whole proposal is simply a pipe-dream by snowboarders who’ve skied, and smoked, too many bowls and is being latched on to by the Mayor and the supporters of the new arena.

      What’s next, a new Kings arena will bring peace to the Middle East?

    • Ben Ilfeld

      newguy, As stated above, I have attended the last few Olympics and while Denver is a fine choice, Tahoe is as well. Vancouver, for example, had to widen the freeway to Whistler, but it it still fewer lanes than 80. I doubt any widening would need to be done. Torino simply shut down some of the roads and dedicated them to Olympics-only traffic. But all of this is silly. You put in a good bid and then you let the IOC determine what they need and then work with them if you are selected.

      OK, wait, did you call the committee that has been working for a few years now—really auspicious people—snowboarders who smoke too much? Plain ignorance and pretty insulting to civic leaders in Tahoe and Reno.

    • bye bye Sacpress

      Based on Salt Lake’s Olympic experience, the “billions in revenue” from Olympics was about equal to the investment. And the SLC area did not experience a sustained Olympic-driven economic boost either.

      There are great reasons to spport or oppose an Olympic bid, but our eyes should be wide open that there is not a pot of gold at the end of the Olympic rainbow.

      http://www.google.com/url?sa=t&source=web&cd=16&ved=0CEIQFjAFOAo&url=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.cppa.utah.edu%2Fpublications%2Fecon_dev%2FOlympics_Econ_Impact.pdf&ei=SudFT6OxGvGfsQL_8PDCDw&usg=AFQjCNHbn-Z-loRmSPNELQOCW3o0iwuGdw

  • Tony Sheppard
  • Sarah Gladstone

    I’ll be honest; I think hosting the Olympics would be awesome. But if it means having to sink all out money into a new arena to do it, I don’t think I could get on board.

  • Aaron Davis

    This year’s weather patterns would be a major blow to this bid

  • Sure, hosting an Olympics in this area would be wonderful. God knows poor, depressed, grubby little Reno could benefit from that kind of economic shot in the arm. I don’t think one necessarily needs to build an arena ahead of time to be competitive in the bidding process. I’m sure if that did happen, the thing that got built would somehow not be “acceptable” to the IOC’s requirements. Just look at all the places who hosted these things in the past; they got some good revenue out of the deal, but they also got a bunch of buildings that often don’t serve much purpose after the flame goes out.

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