How does 2018 Reno-Tahoe Olympics sound?

By: Jim Ruffalo, Gold Country News Service
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Skimming through the notebook while hoping newspapers never become extinct. It’s too hard reading from a computer screen in the bathroom, especially when using a laptop. ... Another thing probably somewhat difficult these days is trying to entice the 2018 Winter Olympics to the Reno-Lake Tahoe area. David Snyder, the director of Placer County’s Office of Economic Development, sits on the Reno Tahoe Winter Games Coalition, the group working hard to get those festivities to the local snow country. Unfortunately, two rather recent events have risen to make things a bit more difficult for the local contingency. One, of course, is the economy — or to be more precise — the lack of the economy. The other is Chicago. Seems that the Windy City — and recent political events made in that aptly named burg — is hard at work trying to land the 2018 Summer Olympics. Chicago has laid out a 21-venue plan, including two biking events in nearby Wisconsin. Soccer would be played at Soldier Field (still no win for the home team). And with baseball no longer an Olympic sport, we thus decry the loss of several possible jokes using Wrigley Field as the punchline. Cost of the Chicago venture is said to be close to $5 billion, with city taxpayers on the hook for about $500 million. On the other hand, all Chicago Mayor Richard Daley needs to do is tell former Chicago resident Barack Obama that the games are too big to fail, and the bailout will be on the next plane. The Reno-Tahoe plan is smaller, both event-wise and financially, but with Chicago a good-sized favorite to land the 2018 games, it doesn’t look good for the western entry. Having covered Olympic events, including the buildup to awarding the site, I can tell you that both the U.S. Olympic Committee and the International Olympic Committee are rather loath to award the same country two games that close together in time. While in the livery of the Orange County Register, I covered Los Angeles’ effort to land the 1980 games. At times, the attempt appeared to be akin to hitting a cat hard enough, and often enough, to make it purr. And that was the easy part. “We’re aware of all of that, but that doesn’t mean we’re giving up the effort,” Snyder said. “As far as (the coalition) is concerned; the effort is alive and well.” Snyder says that even though the coalition just lost what he calls “the life blood” of its efforts, namely an annual $125,000 donation from Nevada’s state sports authority, there are other options. “We’ll find some private financing and keep going forward,” Snyder said. He’s been at this for a while, and tells us there’s some excellent talent involved with the coalition. And with that expertise, they say there’s no way the coalition can pull back from a 2018 effort, even if it wanted to. The (Olympic) committees would see it as a sign of weakness if we suddenly targeted a new date. “Just ask Denver and New York,” he said, referencing both the Mile High City’s abortive canceling of the effort to land the 1976 games once it learned that Los Angeles was going after the 1980 event, and New York’s halting dreams for 2012. “It’s one thing if those committees tell us to change the dates, but it’s quite another if it’s perceived that were pulling back on our own,” Snyder said, adding that the coalition met on March 24 and pledged to keep the effort alive. The plan so far appears to be one worthy of further effort. It calls for most of the arena events to be held at Reno, with the possible exception of speed skating at the Arco Arena. Meanwhile, the bulk of the outdoor competitions would be at Squaw Valley, along with the Heavenly area at South Lake Tahoe. On the other hand, it won’t be easy to obtain the needed private funding if those sponsors feel that Chicago will be the only U.S. city anointed by the Olympians. Snyder also said the coalition will remain viable by putting on some like events in the high country. The coalition is calling that effort its Legacy Program, and all will be designed to keep the effort both in the public eye and moving forward. “We’re going to keep moving forward. We will not be the ones to pull back,” he said. Jim Ruffalo can be reached at