Utah’s economy could see a .6 billion boost from hosting the 2034 Winter Olympics
Utah’s economy could see a .6 billion boost from hosting the 2034 Winter Olympics

That prediction is laid out in a study by the Kem C. Gardner Policy Institute, which analyzes the economic and fiscal impact of hosting the games 10 years from now. The data was presented Wednesday at the institute’s monthly Newsmaker Breakfast – two weeks before Utah learns whether the games will return to the Beehive State.

The bottom line, the report says, is that hosting the Olympic Games will have “significant positive economic and fiscal impacts for the state.”

After the five-page reportThe estimated cumulative economic impact would be $6.6 billion in industry revenues. This includes nearly $3.9 billion in state gross domestic product gains, $2.5 billion in personal income, and over 42,000 work years. A work year is a job that lasts one year.

The results are based on an estimated $2.6 billion in new spending in the decade before and one year after the 2034 Games. The amount is based on 2023 dollar values ​​and has been adjusted for purchases by out-of-state companies, in-state revenue streams and a decline in regular skier attendance during the 15 days of competition.

Despite the positive projections, the same report also states that the 2002 Games had a larger economic impact. From 1996 to 2003, the Games generated $7.5 billion in industry revenue, including $3.7 billion in personal income and nearly 46,000 work years. New spending during the same period was estimated at $3.1 billion.

One factor contributing to the smaller projected impact in 2034 is that Utah will not need to build large Olympic stadiums. Instead, the bid committee will use sites that have existed since the 2002 Games, such as Utah Olympic Park, Utah Olympic Oval and Soldier Hollow Nordic Center.

The committee’s budget allocates $31.2 million for maintenance and minor improvements to these venues, compared to more than $286 million (in 2023 dollars) spent on the facilities in 2002.

But Brett Hopkins, CFO and COO of the bid committee, said Wednesday that lower spending figures would lead to a smaller impact.

“We are talking about construction and are happy that we do not have to spend as much money as we did in 2002, only to find that this reduces the returns in our calculations,” he said.

By preserving and using these venues, Utah has created a unique, living Olympic legacy, Hopkins said. Most host countries use the facilities exclusively for elite athletes, he said. But Utah took a more holistic approach in 2002, focusing on youth development and creating community recreation centers.

“You can’t just think about opening facilities and hoping people will come and use them. You have to hire coaches to run the programs, instructors to teach and teach skating. All of those elements have to be in place to actually promote what we call a living heritage,” he said.

And hosting more games will only strengthen that legacy.

“For the legacy to really last, it can’t just live on the stories of old people,” Hopkins said. “You have to experience it, and that will strengthen this legacy as we move forward.”

Bid committee chairwoman Catherine Raney Norman said the International Olympic Committee’s Commission on Future Host Sites was impressed by Utahns’ connection to the games during its visit in April. She said the legacy of human connection from the 2002 games is why more than 80% of Utahns support a return to the games in 2034.

But Rainey Norman and Hopkins said the committee wants to do more than just leave a living legacy in Utah; it wants to make a positive impact around the world.

“It’s not just about our impact here locally, but also, as Brent points out, globally,” she said. “How can we continue to work with our international partners? How can we provide opportunities for aspiring athletes from our sporting countries and athletes who want to participate?”

However, some Utah residents are concerned about the number of people who will travel to Utah for the 2034 Games, given how difficult it is to get to the ski resorts during the winter. Colin Hilton, CEO of the Utah Olympic Legacy Foundation, mentioned some traffic issues Summit and Wasatch County are currently facing. Heber is working on a bypass to divert traffic away from the main highway, and Park City and Summit County are working to reduce traffic to the ski resorts.

“The Games can actually be an accelerator to solve this problem,” he said. “Deadlines are good, especially for the government, and they are something to aim for and stick to.”

Hopkins said infrastructure improvements align with the committee’s goal of “upgrading” local communities. He said Utah’s goal in 2002 was to put the state on the map. For 2034, the goal is to give back.

By Isla