Placer County a site for 2022 Winter Games?

Gaines announces support of potential Olympic bid
By: ToLewis The Press Tribune
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If all goes as well as some hope, the Winter Olympic Games will be held in Placer County and the surrounding region in 2022. The California Winter Games Committee announced this week that it is in the exploratory stages of putting together a potential bid that could land the Olympic Games in the region for the first time since they were held at Squaw Valley in 1960. Senator Ted Gaines, R-Roseville, announced Wednesday his support of the Sacramento-based coalition of business, civic and local leaders. “The impact of the Winter Olympic Games on my district would be enormous,” Gaines said in a statement. “Millions of dollars would be pumped into the local economy, a legacy of infrastructure improvements would be left behind and the world’s attention would be focused on our majestic Sierra Nevada region.” Gaines told The Press Tribune the committee is interested in getting an invitation from the United States Olympic Committee to bid on the 2022 games, which could happen as early as 2012. “There is a process that we have to adhere to through the USOC,” Gaines said. “We want to be respectful of that process, but we are very excited about the opportunity to host the Olympic games again.” That process involves evaluating the region’s infrastructure — whether it can handle an event of that magnitude and what changes would need to take place to prepare for it, according to Michael Faust, interim chairman of the California Winter Games Committee. “That’s what the exploratory committee is about,” Faust said. “It’s about answering those questions, figuring out the answers and then working through it.” Faust said the committee is working in partnership with the Reno/Tahoe Winter Games Coalition in a dual-state effort to get the invitation to bid, and that the games would likely be held at venues spanning from Sacramento to Reno. “We expect to see venues spread in a similar fashion as with the Vancouver games where events were held south of Vancouver to just slightly north of Whistler and a dozen places in between,” Faust said. Faust said the Olympic committee will most likely make a decision about which community it wants to support for a future bid sometime next year. “So the reality is while 2022 seems like a lifetime from now, it’s really a decision that will be made as quickly as 2012,” he said. Faust said the Placer County region could expect to see similar types of benefits as previous host cities Lake Placid, N.Y., and Salt Lake City, Utah. “The legacy in the Salt Lake area is an enormous amount of intellectual wealth that is still there from the time the Olympics were there,” Faust said. “So we expect to see not only the short-term, but also the long-term impacts as well.” Gaines said the California Winter Games Committee is in close communication with the Reno/Tahoe Winter Games Coalition as well as the Bay Area Sports Commission, and that he is also listening closely to the concerns of the constituents in his district. “I can’t emphasize enough how important it is to stay in communication,” Gaines said. “I’ve talked with people in both organizations, it sounds like there is a lot of positive effort occurring.” Faust said the California Winter Games Committee’s first step is to get the community involved and to put together an economic impact report, which should be released later this summer. Gaines said if the committee grants the bid to the California Winter Games Committee, it would create an intense effort over the course of several years leading up to the Games that would involve infrastructure improvements and construction, thus generating thousands of jobs. “I think it’s a great opportunity to spotlight our community and to create jobs and create some infrastructure,” Gaines said. Toby Lewis can be reached at