Why Denver should host the Olympics, but never will

1976 Innsbruck Olympic Winter Games, Gold Meda...
1976 Innsbruck Olympic Winter Games, Gold Medal, Dorothy Hamill (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Earlier today, Mark Sappenfield wrote a post titled “The $14 billion Summer Olympics, Why does London even want them?” for The Christian Science Monitor. In it, he touches on the fact that, while hosting the Olympic games provides great exposure for cities, the economic gains are generally regarded as non-existant.

Sappenfield explains, though, that a city’s infrastructure is the big winner when it comes to hosting the Olympics, writing that:


True, the average citizen does not go to bed on Christmas Eve dreaming of tearing open “improved infrastructure” the next morning, but for city officials, its four syllables are a siren song.

And he quotes Tony Travers, a professor at the London School of Economics, as saying, “The single massive positive impact of the Olympics is the clearing and redevelopment of a vast, unusable space. It is now all cleaned up and ready to use for a city with a fast-growing population.”

So, as Denver saw a population growth of 10.4% for the period of 2000-2009, maybe the focus on improved infrastructure that the Olympic games brings is just what the city needs.

But getting the games to Colorado may be rather difficult.

It’s well known fact that Denver nearly hosted the 1976 winter olympics, and Richard Schneider at Examiner.com took the time to explain why. It turns out that Colorado voters forbid the use of public funds for the olympic games – after they had already been awarded to Denver – when the costs of the event jumped.

Or, as Schneider put it:

However, Colorado voters ruled! By a 3 to 2 margin, they amended the state constitution “to prohibit the State from levying taxes and appropriating or loaning funds for the purpose of aiding or furthering the 1976 Winter Olympic Games.” A red-faced Denver was forced to withdraw its bid and the 1976 winter games were held at a previous venue, Innsbruck, Austria.

Recently there has been a movement to get the Olympics back to Denver for the 2022 games, but Schneider explains that the:

Olympic movement has a long long memory, and the Denver 1976 winter games debacle is a giant egg in the face of the US Olympic Committee and the International Olympic Committee. Their reluctance to take Denver seriously is monumental.