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Building public support for Olympics

Duane Johnson

Now that the Reno-Tahoe Winter Games Coalition has confirmed its intention to bid to earn the right to host the 2014 Winter Olympic Games the next step is to figure out ways to promote the effort to local communities.

Actually, the coalition, under the direction of CEO Jim Vanden Heuvel, has already set forth some promotional directions to provide the Reno-Sparks area and its outlying communities with information on what the effort is all about.

“We are looking to consistently do bid briefings,” Vanden Heuvel said.

“We’ve already had town meetings in Verdi and Truckee and are looking at setting up quarterly and voluntary meetings,” in Reno and the outlying areas.

In addition, the coalition met with the Reno-Sparks Chamber of Commerce earlier in the year to discuss the possibilities of bringing the games to the region.

In a statement released at the press conference announcing the coalition’s intentions last week, a representative of the Reno-Sparks Chamber released a statement endorsing the group’s efforts to use sports as an economic driving force and to bring the Games to Reno- Tahoe.

The coalition plans to work to convince the public that the games would not be too costly or too disruptive to the area among the concerns that residents may have.

The coalition thinks the benefits can far outweigh the concerns.

“The Games can be financially successful and that’s the word that we want to get out,” said Jack Kelly, chief executive officer of Event Partners Inc., a sports management and consulting firm who is advising the coalition’s bid.

The projected cost of hosting an Olympics is $1.5 billion, but that cost can be covered.

Kelly noted that the Salt Lake City games earned between $200 million and $250 million in ticket sales alone.

To earn a bid, the coalition must start building public support right away.

The United States Olympic Committee will call for U.S.

cities’ bids this year.

The U.S.

candidate will be announced in summer of 2005, and that city will immediately be in consideration by the International Olympic Committee.

The 2014 host city will be announced in the summer of 2007.

The period between 2003 and 2005 will be a crucial time for Reno-Tahoe to sway opinion of the USOC.

“Once you get the (U.S.) bid, people from all over the world want to come to your city and test you out,” Kelly said.

One aspect necessary to obtain a bid is improvement of event facilities such as the University of Nevada, Reno’s Mackay Stadium, a venue that could be used for the games’ opening and closing ceremonies and some skating events.

Other considerations are construction of facilities at Lake Tahoe resorts, such as Squaw Valley and Diamond Peak..

Other ways to promote the bid and also raise funds for the cause are the creation of the Snow and Ice Partners and the 2014 Clubs.

The Snow and Ice Partners give local merchants and corporations the opportunity to contribute to the bid and other long-term projects in exchange for games tickets and hospitality.

The 2014 Clubs are a three-tier system of fund-raising for individuals and companies to contribute.

For instance, the first level is the 2014 Club is a contribution of $20.14; 2014 Torch Club is $201.40 and 2014 Cauldron Club is $2,014.

If Reno-Tahoe is chosen as the U.S.

candidate, and moves on to the compete with a list of cities outside the United states, the coalition plans to launch additional fund-raising campaigns.

In addition, the coalition is looking to build national and international interest in Reno by hosting other competitive events.

The coalition recently closed a deal to move the World Wristwrestling Championships from its’ 32-year home of Petaluma, Calif., to be held Oct.

11- 12 at the Speakeasy Casino in Reno.

Vanden Heuvel said this is one of a number of events that are expected to help elevate bid awareness in the coming months and years.

He said, however, no other events are confirmed at this time.

“We’ll host some events later on in the future,” Vanden Heuvel said.

“Right now, the plan is to build public awareness.”


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