Tahoe Olympic hopefuls prepare for bidding process | SierraSun.com

Tahoe Olympic hopefuls prepare for bidding process

Leaders of an effort to bring the Winter Olympics back to the Reno-Tahoe area on Tuesday declared themselves the U.S. front-runner to host the 2014 games.”We’re confident we’re way ahead of anybody else, especially in the United States,” said Jim Vanden Heuvel, a sports marketing consultant in Reno pushing the effort with a nonprofit group.The 1960 Winter Games were held at Squaw Valley U.S.A., about an hour from Reno between Truckee, Calif., and Tahoe City, Calif., on the northwest shore of Lake Tahoe.Denver and Lake Placid, N.Y., which is mulling a joint-games bid with Quebec, Canada, are among other cities that have expressed interest in hosting the games in 2014.Jack Kelly, a veteran Olympic bid consultant from Dallas who is assisting the local effort, predicted Reno-Tahoe will move to the top of the list when the U.S. Olympic Committee begins accepting formal proposals in 2005. The International Olympic Committee is scheduled to pick the site in 2007.Kelly, president of the Goodwill Games from 1990-96, said he doubts Lake Placid will win because it’s already hosted two Olympics and Denver’s effort is doomed because it pulled out of the 1976 games.”Ever since then, Denver has had a big black `X’ next to its name,” said Kelly, the chief executive of the Atlanta-based sports management firm Event Partners that recently helped with Houston’s bid for the 2012 Summer Games.Nevertheless, Denver officials have asked Kelly’s advice on bidding for the 2014 games, he said.”The instant the call for bids comes out, we’re going to be the first one out of the box. We may even be able to discourage some of the lesser candidates from getting up and bidding against us,” he said.Telephone messages left at the Denver Metro Chamber of Commerce and Lake Placid Essex County Convention & Visitors Bureau in New York were not immediately returned Tuesday evening.Reno-Tahoe Winter Games 2014, which formed as a nonprofit group last year, released a $60,000 feasibility study Tuesday that highlights the strengths and deficiencies of the Reno-Tahoe area in hosting the games.”From the time we started talking about it, you knew this was a place that could do the games relative to other international venues,” Kelly said.”Now we’re looking at strengths and weaknesses on where to locate various venues and things like where you put a ski jump and where do you put the luge run,” he said.The strengths include:– ticket sale potential, with 13 million people living within four hours of Reno, compared with the 3 million who were that close to Salt Lake City– 40,000 hotel rooms in the Reno-Sparks-Tahoe area– a major international airport, Reno-Tahoe International, within an hour of most venues– the University of Nevada, Reno, campus with sports facilities and a football stadium that can be enlarged to accommodate a crowd of 40,000 for ceremonies– a convention center that could serve as a broadcast media centerThe review found no “fatal flaws” but listed “challenges” that included:– limited park-and- ride locations for shuttling to events– extensive development necessary for downhill and Super G skiing competition– at least three new ice skating venues probably would have to be constructed– a variance may be required from Olympic rules to hold cross-country and biathlon competition at a higher elevation than usual

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