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Could and should Denver host the Winter Olympics?

The Olympic games, with all the pageantry, competition and crowds - could it and should it come to Denver?
Denver 2026

The Olympic games, with all the pageantry, competition and crowds - could it and should it come to Denver?

Thursday was the first online seminar where people heard the promises that come with hosting the games and got the chance to ask questions. It's part of the process to help a committee decide whether Denver could and should host the winter games in 2026.

"We are trying to hear from people what they would like to see," said Richard Scharf, co-chair of the Community & Civic Engagement Subcommittee of the Exploratory Committee. "We have a pretty robust community effort going on right now."

The committee says out of the 16 required venues, Denver already has all but three - a ski jump, a sliding center and a Nordic venue. They wouldn't name venues, but read between the lines - we also need to have a stadium that seats at least 40,000 people for the opening and closing ceremonies.

There's a lot of talk about legacy, like turning a new Olympic village that would house athletes into affordable housing after the games. What that would look like is yet to be determined and is a part of the feedback the committee is looking to get from the public.

There is also a lot of concern about traffic. The committee says the games could be a chance to improve I-70 without using tax dollars. They're also looking at what other cities have done, like restricting some lanes to help with traffic.

Scharf said it wouldn't solve all the problems on I-70 over the 17-day period of the games but added, "We've seen with other cities that have hosted the Olympics, they are able to make some improvement with infrastructure as a result of having this big event," said Scharf.

In the '70s Denver won and then rejected the Winter Olympics due to a concern about money.

This time estimates show it could cost around $2 billion. The International Olympic Committee could front around half of that. Both the governor and mayor have indicated if the games can't be privately funded the games are a no-go.

"Most of the revenue generation through sponsorship and ticket sales are from companies that follow the Olympics," said Scharf, no matter the city the games are in.

The U.S. Olympic Committee asked Denver, Reno and Salt Lake City to look into the idea. But there's still a long way to go. A decision will be made at the end of March if the U.S. will put in a bid. If the answer is yes, an official bid will be submitted in the fall.

And it'll be another year before the IOC picks a host city.

Thursday's seminar will be online at explorethegames.com within a few days.

The next online seminar is February 24 at 9 a.m.

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