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January 26, 2015

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Nevada’s effort to land Winter Olympics might be back in play



A view of Lake Tahoe near Reno, May 2011. California and Nevada officials have been working together to lure the Winter Games back to the Lake Tahoe area in 2022.

Brian Krolicki

Brian Krolicki

A landmark revenue-sharing agreement reached by the International Olympic Committee and the U.S. Olympic Committee last month is being hailed as a potential catalyst for one of the state's largest tourism opportunities.

Lt. Gov. Brian Krolicki, who chairs the Nevada Tourism Commission, said Wednesday that resolution of the dispute opens the door to the U.S. Olympic Committee preparing a bid to host the Winter Olympic Games in 2022.

A two-state host effort by California and Nevada with most of the alpine events targeted for Heavenly Resort at Lake Tahoe is one of the prospective bids.

Krolicki gave the Olympic Games update at a Tourism Commission meeting in Las Vegas.

"Another roadblock has been cleared," said Krolicki, one of the most vocal proponents of Northern Nevada's efforts to play host to the games. "Within a few weeks, we'll know more about whether this dream has an opportunity to be competed for."

The two-state effort to woo the games gained additional traction last year when organizations in California, including the Bay Area Sports Organizing Committee, agreed to work together to develop a bid.

But the states' efforts were overshadowed by the unresolved dispute between the IOC and the USOC.

Under a longstanding open-ended contract dating to 1996, the USOC received a 20 percent share of global sponsorship revenue and a 12.75 percent cut of U.S. broadcast rights deals. That didn't sit well with members of the IOC, primarily from European countries, that wanted the contract renegotiated.

Negotiations stalled for seven years and in most recent Olympics site selections, prospective U.S. host cities felt the wrath of IOC voters.

The Associated Press reported that lingering resentment likely led to New York City's failed effort to win the 2012 Summer Olympics — which were won by London and will begin in late July — and in a Chicago bid for the 2016 games being eliminated in the first round of IOC voting.

After the Chicago failure, USOC officials said they would not bid again until the revenue-sharing deal was resolved, putting the California-Nevada efforts for 2022 in jeopardy.

But late last month, the IOC and the USOC announced that a deal had been reached.

While Nevada and California have been early to the table in efforts to be the USOC's choice to be the U.S. bid in the international selection process, it's not the only bid in the running.

Denver, Salt Lake City and Bozeman, Mont., also may seek the USOC's favor. California has the advantage of once hosting the Winter Games in 1960 at Squaw Valley, unexpectedly winning the international nod over Innsbruck, Austria.

Salt Lake City hosted the Winter Games in 2002 — but having done so recently, could hurt its chances.

Denver won a bid in 1976, but withdrew after Colorado voters rejected a bond issue that would have helped pay for them. The 1976 games ended up being staged in Innsbruck.

Bozeman is considered a long-shot for 2022.

While the USOC hasn't said whether it would offer a bid for the 2022 or 2026 Winter Games or the 2024 Summer Games, a decision is expected to be reached in the weeks ahead. If the green light is given, the California-Nevada effort, which Krolicki has said would list Reno as the host city, would be back in play.

Mackay Stadium on the University of Nevada, Reno, campus would be the likely site of opening and closing ceremonies.

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