SALT LAKE CITY -- Utah has the skills, the people and the know-how to host the Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games again, two Top of Utah lawmakers said Wednesday, the same day Gov. Gary Herbert and Salt Lake City Mayor Ralph Becker announced the formation of an exploratory committee to consider a bid for the 2022 or 2026 Winter Games.
Senate Majority Leader Sen. Scott Jenkins, R-Plain City, said the biggest plus Utah has to offer is "the people. Our people really like to volunteer, and we even had volunteers come from outside of Utah, like Idaho, Wyoming, Nevada and Colorado."
Jenkins said the state will have to consider allocating funds to upgrade the venues that were used 10 years ago, but it will cost less to upgrade than to build entirely new venues.
Hosting the 2002 Winter Games "was a healthy thing for the state of Utah," said Sen. Lyle Hillyard, R-Logan. "The venues were spectacular, and the people were great."
Hillyard said the exposure Utah received during the Olympics brought people to the state to tour as well as to ski, which meant increased tourism dollars.
"We showcased so well nationally and internationally," said Minority Leader Sen. Ross Romero, D-Salt Lake City. "Utah has a lot of pride."
Jenkins said when the 2002 Games were over, Utah was not left with a debt. The money allocated by the state for the venues was repaid, and Utah also received funding to use for the venues.
"Ten years ago, Utah 'Lit the Fire Within,' and today that flame still burns bright," Herbert said in his announcement, citing the debt-free success of the Salt Lake City games.
"This talented committee will thoughtfully and carefully consider whether we should officially submit Salt Lake City to be considered to host future Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games."
The committee will be co-chaired by Becker, Lt. Gov. Greg Bell and Utah Sports Commission Chairman Steven Price.
The exploratory committee will examine specific criteria, including budget and financing, transportation, environment, venues, potential competitors, public support and economic impact, according to a news release.
The committee plans to take three to four months to complete its review.