Salt Lake City named 'preferred host' for 2034 Olympic Winter Games | News | Salt Lake City Weekly

Salt Lake City named 'preferred host' for 2034 Olympic Winter Games 

Let the Games Begin

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Utah Gov. Spencer Cox speaks at an event celebrating Salt Lake City's selection as preferred host for the 2034 Olympic Winter Games on Wednesday, Nov. 29, 2023. - COURTESY OF SALT LAKE CITY
  • Courtesy of Salt Lake City
  • Utah Gov. Spencer Cox speaks at an event celebrating Salt Lake City's selection as preferred host for the 2034 Olympic Winter Games on Wednesday, Nov. 29, 2023.

WASHINGTON SQUARE—The 2034 Winter Olympics are Utah's to lose after Salt Lake City was named the "preferred host" city by international organizers on Tuesday, all but locking in the state's bid for a second turn hosting the prestigious winter sporting event.

While not yet a formal invitation to host from the International Olympic Committee (IOC), the "preferred" status effectively closes the door to other would-be competitor cities while a final review is conducted of Salt Lake City and Utah's plans and readiness for the games.

"We are a community that has Olympics in our DNA," Salt Lake City Mayor Erin Mendenhall said Tuesday. "That’s why this feels so good and why we know we’re going to get this done."

click to enlarge A crowd celebrates Salt Lake City's selection as the "preferred host" of the 2034 Olympic Winter Games at Washington Square on Wednesday, Nov. 29, 2023. - BENJAMIN WOOD
  • Benjamin Wood
  • A crowd celebrates Salt Lake City's selection as the "preferred host" of the 2034 Olympic Winter Games at Washington Square on Wednesday, Nov. 29, 2023.

Mendenhall was joined by Utah Gov. Spencer Cox and several local Olympians on Tuesday at an event celebrating the IOC's announcement outside the City and County Building. Roughly 100 residents were in attendance—including former Gov. Gary Herbert, businesswoman and philanthropist Gail Miller and several members of the state Legislature and Salt Lake City Council—who cheered the likelihood of another Olympic and Paralympic Games in the state, which would fall roughly three decades after Utah's first turn hosting in 2002.

Mendenhall noted that Utah has maintained its Olympic venues—where many of the world's elite winter athletes regularly train—expanded its hotel and housing accommodations and improved its transit network, all critical elements of welcoming the world to Salt Lake City. And while the state was prepared to host either the 2030 or 2034 games, she said the later selection allows more time to make the additional preparations and investment necessary for the games to be a success.

"That means that we can pull off a very strong, stable and financially strong games," Mendenhall said. "I don’t think there’s another place in the world that has as much support."

In the past, Cox has suggested a second Winter Olympics could catalyze new investments in public transportation, similar to how TRAX and Frontrunner were funded and built in the lead-up to 2002. The strategic double-tracking of Frontrunner—which would allow for seven-day service and 15-minute frequencies during peak travel hours—is projected to be completed in 2029, in time for the games. But other transit plans that have been back-burnered in favor of perpetual highway widening could see renewed attention as venues and spectators in Summit County, Weber County, Davis County and Utah County look to benefit from multi-modal travel options.

"I’m hopeful that, as it did in 2002, an Olympic award can set a mark to help us work toward," Cox said in October, "... to give us some clarity on where we need to go with additional mass transit projects—expanding into Utah County, getting some of those last-mile services available. Those are things that I think are really important transportation pieces as well."

Fraser Bullock, president of Salt Lake's Committee for the Games, said the IOC's decision to award preferred status and begin what is called "Targeted Dialogue" is a credit to the communities of Utah that worked together to create a welcoming region for sport.

“For more than a decade, our state and community leaders have united towards this goal," Bullock said in a prepared statement. "The IOC has recognized our high level of preparedness, with all venues in place and active, as well as overwhelming support from our political and business leaders.”

Members of the public are invited to join a celebration of the game's (presumed) return on Friday, Dec. 1, between at 6 p.m. at Rice-Eccles Stadium's Cauldron Plaza. The plaza is located just east of the Stadium TRAX Station, on the Red Line.

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About The Author

Benjamin Wood

Benjamin Wood

Bio:
Lifelong Utahn Benjamin Wood has worn the mantle of City Weekly's news editor since 2021. He studied journalism at Utah State University and previously wrote for The Salt Lake Tribune, the Deseret News and Entertainment Weekly

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