It was just an underplot amidst the tonnage of positive news and themes emerging from the weekend's buoyant United States Olympic Committee (USOC) Assembly in Colorado Springs, but the topic of a possible Denver 2022 Olympic Winter Games bid by the United States came up in media scrums more than once.
To be sure, USOC chief executive Scott Blackmun was clear that a future bid for an American Games by the USOC was secondary to the critical issues of its relationship with the International Olympic Committee and issues related to revenue sharing.
Blackmun was candid that the USOC would also look at the possibility of bidding for other important international events that made sense, in order to establish itself as an international friend and supporter, such as the Youth Olympic Games.
In attendance at the Assembly were representatives of the Reno-Tahoe area, which continues to shadow the USOC with its interest in a future Olympic Winter Games, and there are whispers that Salt Lake City has interest in another host role, which would be three decades after its magnificent 2002 triumph.
It’s no secret that the Metro Denver Sports Commission has made landing the Games a mission, and President KieAnn Brownell and her team were on hand at the Assembly. The Denver group has been aggressive in seeking international events to bolster a platform for an Olympic bid, securing the 2009 Sport Accord and working to land the 2018 or 2022 FIFA World Cup. The city will also host the 2012 NCAA Basketball Women’s Final Four.
"We are interested in looking at all types of events that we can bring to Denver for economic impact," Brownell told John Meyer of the Denver Post on Saturday, "At some point, if the USOC says we're going to get back in the [Olympic] bid game, we would be interested in sitting down and talking to them and seeing what that looks like."
That said, dreaming that I would happily be watching a 2022 Denver Olympic Winter Games on NBC Sports at my home in Kennebunkport, on Maine’s Down East shores, here’s my own, speculative, afternoon nap vision of a Denver Games 12 years on down the road of life:
Opening Ceremony - In front of 58,000 at Denver Olympic Stadium and a beautiful light snowfall, Coors Field as we know it, the home of the Rockies, but under IOC regulations, re-named because of sponsor sensitivity. The massive Invesco Field at Mile High was not available because the Denver Broncos and the NFL could not commit to the time and work to retrofit the stadium during the season and with the potential of the league’s playoff dates.
Main Press/Broadcast Center - The Colorado Convention Center in downtown Denver. 584,000 square feet of space for news agencies, a 5,000-seat theatre and 63 meeting rooms for IOC briefings and assorted USOC and National Olympic Committee media events and announcements. Numerous restaurants and amenities for the accredited media and the hub of the media transportation system for the venues.
Media accommodation for the more than 9,000 accredited news media and broadcast partner personnel at more than 75 Denver-area hotels selected by the IOC and the Denver Olympic Organising Committee with a varied rate schedule related to location and services.
Main Athlete Villages - Accommodation for the 3,000 athletes and 1,000 delegation support personnel at Denver University, Metro State and CU-Denver student housing for Denver events, modeled on the Los Angeles 1984 campus housing system at USC and UCLA. The students of the three institutions get a Games-long holiday.
Figure Skating - The 18,000-seat Denver Ice Center, also known as the Pepsi Center, but possibly re-named during the Games to support longtime Olympic sponsor Coca-Cola.
Men’s and Women’s ice hockey - At the Magness Arena at Denver University, capacity 8,000 for the sport, which now features non-NHL and collegiate players from competing nations after the NHL withdrew from the Games under pressure by team owners after the 2010 Vancouver Games.
Alpine Skiing - Beaver Creek, 120 miles from Denver and home of previous World Cup and other major international ski events. Athlete housing in designated hotels/motels. Ski jumping at brand-new venue with seats for 12,000 below the jump and for more than 25,000 at the Downhill and other Alpine events.
Nordic Skiing, Cross-Country Skiing, Biathlon - Winter Park, 67 miles from Denver with a specially-constructed Nordic stadium for the events seating 15,000 at the finish line. Seats are temporary and removed after the Games.
Bobsled, Skeleton, Luge, Snowboard/Freestyle skiing - At the new Colorado Olympic Park, 20 minutes west of Denver, in Genesee Park, Denver’s largest mountain park. Housing for athletes at the Colorado School of Mines in Golden. Refrigerated run for sliding sports with temporary seating and for the other venue events which will be removed after the Games. Funding from the state’s special Olympic lottery.
Curling - At the 1stBank Center in nearby Broomfield, called the Olympic Curling Center for the Games, just up the pike from Denver.
Speed Skating - At the new, 8,000-seat Denver Olympic Oval, near the Denver University campus and the home of the DU Pioneers WCHA ice hockey team, with Magness Arena now devoted to the school’s men’s and women’s basketball gymnastics and other sports only.
Short Track Speed Skating - At the Colorado Springs World Arena, just 60 miles south of Denver, with 7,500 seats and athlete housing at the U.S. Olympic Training Center and University of Colorado at Colorado Springs.
Medals Plaza - At the Denver Civic Center near the Capitol, where almost 10,000 can enjoy the official medals presentations to the athletes each evening after sundown, with the lights and sights of the city, music, nightly fireworks and pageantry. The athletes arrive in horse-drawn, vintage carriages.
This and that- The Official IOC headquarters hotel is the historic Brown Palace.
There is almost nobody alive (or coherent) who can recall that Denver was awarded the 1976 Olympic Winter Games but gave them back to the IOC, which turned to Innsbruck. It's not an issue now as this superb city hosts the Games.
Former USOC chief executive Scott Blackmun is the chairman of the 2022 Denver Olympic Organising Committee after retiring from the USOC in 2015 and helping to return the organisation to prominence and credibility. William J. Hybl of Colorado Springs and USOC President Emeritus, is the Governor of Colorado, and joins the Mayor of Denver, Tim Tebow, Blackmun and the President of the United States as she declares the Games officially open at the Opening Ceremony.
Citius, Altius, Fortius!
Mike Moran was the chief communications officer of the USOC for nearly 25 years before retiring in 2003. In 2002 he was awarded with the USOC's highest award, the General Douglas MacArthur Award. He worked on New York's unsuccessful bid to host the 2012 Olympics and is now director of communications for the Colorado Springs Sports Corporation.