Blackout may help bring Olympics to Tahoe

SOUTH LAKE TAHOE -- The August blackout in New York City may illuminate Reno-Tahoe's chances of becoming the host for the 2014 Winter Olympics.

Organizers working on making the Reno-Tahoe region the host for the 2014 Winter Olympics believe the Big Apple's chances of being the host city in 2012 for the summer Olympics may have been squelched by the power outage.

"We feel the blackout hurt New York City," said Jim Vanden Heuvel, Reno Tahoe Winter Games Coalition spokesman.

There's a strategy behind the bidding process.

The International Olympic Committee tends to spread the wealth and benefits of the Olympic Games among countries, leaning away from sending the event to the same nation in back-to-back years, even though different cities are involved.

New York City is vying to get the Games in 2012, competing with London and Paris. The Nevada Commission on Sports chairman has spearheaded a drive to bring the event here in 2014.

Vancouver, British Columbia, will host the 2010 games.

The committee will select a site by 2007. Bids are due two years prior. If the coalition loses on its 2014 bid, it's open to going for 2018.

"You have to be in the game to win," he said.

Vanden Heuvel thinks Tahoe and Reno are ripe for the taking since the 1960 Winter Games at Squaw Valley.

"Part of the strength of having the Reno-Tahoe games is domestically (in the U.S.) there's no one else left who can handle them," Vanden Heuvel told the chamber board.

The sports advocate said the Reno region's chances are good because the Sierra Nevada have world-renowned slopes.

Detailed plans of the infrastructure must be in place, requiring the approval of the Tahoe Regional Planning Agency. No formal request has been submitted to the basin's regulatory agency.

The coalition has circulated a feasibility study in its efforts to drum up support for the quest to host the games. Vanden Heuvel has come before chambers of commerce in Sacramento, Reno-Sparks and Truckee.

South Lake Tahoe's board wants to mull the proposal, deciding to bring the idea to the executive committee. President Ken Daley expects the board will determine whether to officially back the coalition's efforts at its meeting in October.

The group stressed how environmental advocates such as TRPA, Sierra Club and League to Save Lake Tahoe would need to sign off on such a large-scale event.

"That's going to be our biggest hurdle," South Lake Tahoe City Councilman Tom Davis said.

The environment and transportation present the most pressing issues. A mass transit system will need to be in place, many believe.

"This is the area it could be successful if the infrastructure is put in place," said Blaise Carrig, Heavenly Ski Resort chief operating officer.


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