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Olympics Bid May Hinge on Transit

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Coloradan Lindsey Vonn displays her bronze (super-G) and gold medals (downhill) during the medal ceremony for the Alpine skiing Women's Super-G event of the Vancouver 2010 Winter Olympics at Whistler Medal Plaza venue on February 20, 2010 in Whistler. (credit: FABRICE COFFRINI/AFP/Getty Images)

Coloradan Lindsey Vonn displays her bronze (super-G) and gold medals (downhill) during the medal ceremony for the Alpine skiing Women’s Super-G event of the Vancouver 2010 Winter Olympics at Whistler Medal Plaza venue on February 20, 2010 in Whistler. (credit: FABRICE COFFRINI/AFP/Getty Images)

Written by Dominic Dezzutti

The committee that will head up Colorado’s bid to host the Winter Olympics met last week for the first time to discuss the goals and the challenges of such an endeavor. There are so many variables to such an effort that the group already has four subcommittees.

And while none of those four subcommittees is focused on Colorado transit politics, the conversation about the Olympics will likely become intertwined with that issue if talks continue.

The entire concept of hosting a Winter Olympics is a complicated one and a concept that needs to look at a variety of infrastructure issues. And those infrastructure issues usually come with a major price tag.

Cities who host the Olympics justify that major price tag of infrastructure upgrades by the effect the Olympics have on the local economy and the boost the event gives to the international notoriety of the host city.

However, local economic effects and a boost in notoriety was not enough to convince Colorado voters in 1976 to front the expense for the Olympics.

Nearly 40 years later, Colorado’s Olympics panel hopes voters are in a different mood.

A key element that may sway voters on the entire issue is how hosting the Olympics could finally address a major transit problem that Coloradans have been arguing about for nearly 40 years.

While most voters may not be worried about how a new Curling venue brings in future investment, many Coloradans may support the idea of the Olympics if it brings with it a solution to the Interstate 70 mountain corridor congestion problem.

In fact, addressing the I-70 corridor may become the key to winning over any citizens who are on the fence about wanting to host the Olympics.

Colorado voters are independent and usually fairly practical. The most successful candidates and issues need to make sense to Coloradans, who rarely vote on a purely emotional level.

If the panel building a case to host the 2022 Winter Olympics wants to rally non-sports fans in Colorado around the idea, it will be key for them to point out more benefits than simply more people in the world will know about our great skiing.

Frankly, the world already knows Colorado has some of the best skiing in the world. While as a state, we like people to like us, we’re pretty confident in our own ski resort prowess. It will take more than playing on our Sally Field-like insecurity to get non-sports fans to support the idea of the Olympics.

But solving the conundrum that is the I-70 corridor may just be the secret to that support.

If that is indeed the case, it is safe to assume that the discussion may center on the transit question very early.

It’s not an easy problem to solve, but if the Olympics can bring a solution to the mountain congestion problem, there may indeed be many more Winter Olympics fans in Colorado than there were 40 years ago.

About The Blogger

- Dominic Dezzutti, producer of the Colorado Decides debate series, a co-production of CBS4 and Colorado Public Television, looks at the local and national political scene in his CBSDenver.com blog. Read new entries here every Monday, Wednesday and Friday. Dezzutti writes about federal, state and local matters and how our elected leaders are handling the issues important to Colorado. Dezzutti also produces the Emmy winning Colorado Inside Out, hosted by Raj Chohan, on Colorado Public Television.

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