(ATR) "It’s too early to talk about a referendum" on a possible Denver bid for the 2030 Winter Games, says the chairman of the city's Exploratory Committee.
Rob Cohen, the chairman of the committee looking into the merits of a bid, tells Around the Rings that the idea of a referendum is a case of putting the cart before the horse. His group’s recommendation to the Colorado governor and Denver mayor isn’t due until May.
"I’m not really sure how we’re having a referendum discussion when we haven’t even made a final recommendation," Cohen says, adding that Denver doesn’t know "when or if the United States Olympic Committee will ask for a bid".
Earlier this month at a community forum, former Colorado Governor Dick Lamm called for the state’s legislature to put a referendum on the ballot this fall. Lamm, then a state legislator, helped lead a successful campaign to reject funding for the 1976 Winter Games in Denver, making it the only city to decline a winning bid to host an Olympics.
Lamm is part of an Olympic opposition group and has an ally in No Boston Olympics co-chair Chris Dempsey. Dempsey, who helped stop Boston’s bid to host the 2024 Summer Games, also supports a referendum.
Cohen tells ATR "one of the issues that the exploratory committee is going to address and put in our recommendation to the governor and the mayor is whether we think there is a need for a referendum and if there is, and we feel like it’s the right thing to do, how we would propose doing that. But at this point any of those discussions are probably premature."
The 2030 bid team has studied what cost Denver the 1976 Winter Games and is working to avoid the same mistakes this time around. Cohen believes reaching out to the community with an "open and transparent dialogue" will result in a different outcome.
"Our community engagement process has probably been more robust than any other community at this stage of the process," Cohen says, adding that more than 40 local meetings, a website, an online survey and webinars have all been used "to engage with the community to understand what their concerns are".
That includes multiple meetings with those talking about running a referendum on a potential bid "to make sure we understand their issues and their concerns to make sure all of them are addressed in the plan".
Should Denver join the 2030 race, the city would likely face challenges from 2002 hosts Salt Lake City and Reno-Tahoe in the bid to be the U.S. representative. The United States Olympic Committee recently notified the IOC that it wants to bid for 2030.
Written by Gerard Farek
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