40 Years Later, Is Denver Ready To Host The Winter Olympics?

By Jeff Todd

DENVER (CBS4)– Denver is getting ready for yet another bid for the Winter Olympics, more than 40 years after the city nixed the games.

“What we really want to do is really take the lead of the U.S. Olympic Committee. If they want to put together a bid for the Winter Games in the future, we want to be a possibility for them,” said Denver Sports Commission Executive Director Matthew Payne.

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(credit: Jonathan Ernst/Getty Images)

Colorado officials started moving toward preparing a bid after USOC CEO Scott Blackmun said Salt Lake City, Reno and Denver are cities he’d like to see bid.

Blackmun said the USOC board will meet next month to discuss the possibility.

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(credit: CBS)

“We’re still doing our due diligence right now and looking at the possibilities,” Payne said. “We want to make sure that of course it benefits the citizens of Denver.”

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(credit: CBS)

“We feel like we can handle a lot of the venue needs. We think we have a majority of them. For those ones that we don’t, just like any other event that we’re going to be looking at, we’re going to create some creative solutions that do benefit the city,” Perry said.

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CBS4’s Jeff Todd interviews Denver Sports Commission Executive Director Matthew Payne (credit: CBS)

Denver famously won the 1976 Winter Games in 1970, but with events planned closer to Denver, residents grew concerned with the bid, then overwhelmingly rejected the Olympics in a vote in 1972 with many sighting the ballooning costs. The 1976 Olympics were hosted by Innsbruck, Austria.

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(credit: ThinkStock)

At the time, Dick Lamm, who would become Colorado’s Governor in 1975, led the rejection campaign.

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(credit: CBS)

Lamm told CBS4 on Tuesday, “The history of Winter Olympic bids is not a happy history and I am skeptical Denver 2026 or 2030 would be any different.”

Gov. John Hickenlooper’s office said he’d be behind a new bid.

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“A lot of things have changed since 1976, the city has changed a lot, the IOC has changed, the Olympic games have changed, so I think we’re looking at a different scenario here,” Perry said. “Just make sure we’re always looking at the positive side of it and make sure it does benefit this city.”

Jeff Todd joined the CBS4 team in 2011 covering the Western Slope in the Mountain Newsroom. Since 2015 he’s been working across the Front Range in the Denver Headquarters. Follow him on Twitter @CBS4Jeff.

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