Romney says it’s worth ‘stretching’ if you get the bid |

Romney says it’s worth ‘stretching’ if you get the bid

Kyle Magin
Nevada Appeal News Service
Carrie Richards/Nevada Appeal News Service 2008 presidential hopeful and former governor of Massachusetts Mitt Romney speaks with the Reno Tahoe Winter Games Coalition on Tuesday. Romney answered questions and shared with the committee his involvement with the 2002 Winter Olympics in Salt Lake City.

Mount Rose – The backdrop seemed fitting.

A banner showing the profile of a green mountain, blue lake and a bright red question mark emblazoned with “Reno Tahoe Winter Olympics 2018,” stood behind former Massachusetts governor and 2008 Republican presidential hopeful Mitt Romney.

Romney was branded the savior of a questionable 2002 Salt Lake City games, which were marred with a bribery scandal before his leadership turned the games around and earned a $100 million dollar profit.

The candidate was at the Mount Rose-Ski Tahoe Resort on Tuesday afternoon to speak to the bid committee trying to bring the Games to the Reno-Tahoe area in 2018.

The Reno-Tahoe Winter Olympics Coalition was formed in 2002. It followed a previous committee that intended to bid for the 2014 games, but withdrew the bid in order to present a stronger case for the 2018 Winter Olympics, according to Nevada Lt. Gov. Brian Krolicki.

“Make no mistake, the Games take a major investment and a lot of work, but it is worth stretching for,” Romney said. “More so than financial gains, it is huge for the citizens of your city and state, they will get to experience the joy of serving others and the empowerment that stems from that feeling.”

Romney’s speech to the committee covered a broad range of subjects from how he accepted the position to head the 2002 games to dealing with the logistics of parking, security and public transportation.

“There is no better feeling than watching the American team walk into the opening ceremonies, and when they carry the flag, it is a symbol of the nation, which is the hope of the earth. I dearly hope that all of you get to share in that experience,” Romney said.

A 2018 Reno-Tahoe bid will be presented to the United States Olympic Committee next summer. If that is accepted, a bid to the International Olympic Committee, or IOC, would be made in 2009, and a final decision wouldn’t be reached until 2011.

“It is important to remember the timeline involved in this process,” Krolicki said. “While this is seemingly a long ways out, these bids take years to get through the system.”

Were the bid not to succeed, the economic windfall for the area could still be great, said Reno resident Mike Benjamin, a board member of the Reno Tahoe Winter Olympics Committee.

“All of this work would not go for naught,” Benjamin said. “Money flows into the region just by being a bid city, all of our work would go toward making the area an international winter sports destination.”

Romney and members of the board also addressed concerns that the Olympics would have on the local environment.

“A very important element of the Olympic bid process is not to impact the environment,” Romney said. “The idea is to actually enhance the environment, something we did in Salt Lake City. We concluded the games would be net-zero emissions games and contracted with other states to decrease their emissions standards as ours increased … we were also responsible for planting over a million trees. There are three things that are important to a successful Olympics, one is sport, two is the environment and three is culture, and all three should be considered a part of any Olympic bid. The Olympics are actually an opportunity to have a positive impact on the local environment.”

“I’ve worked with the Tahoe Regional Planning Agency for years and will continue to throughout the bid process. We are very sensitive to environmental issues regarding the lake and it is hugely important that these are a green-friendly games,” Krolicki said.

David Snyder, 2018 committee member and Placer County chief of economic development, saw the environmental impact of the games as the overriding concern of most North Shore residents.

“One of the keys would be to be sure that the infrastructure wasn’t overburdened and that there was environmental sensitivity,” Snyder said.

Snyder also hoped that California would be a major part of the bid process and the Olympic games if they came.

“We are working with California to match Nevada’s investment in these games, both financially and in terms of personnel, they’ve been a little slow in coming around but in the next few weeks we hope to catch up,” Snyder said.