About 50 Denverites gathered at the McNichols Civic Center Building Thursday night to have a public discussion facilitated by Nita Mosby Tyler of the Equity Project about the perceived risks and rewards of Denver hosting the 2030 Winter Olympics.
A diverse group of residents shared their opinions about the effect the games would have on the city by writing them down on sticky notes, with several key themes emerging — like how the events would be funded.
“Big things I see under risks are transportation,” said Tyler, summarizing some of the notes after they’d been stuck to windows. “I see a lot around that. I see a lot about the financial impact this would have on vulnerable communities as a challenge.”
Many of the discussion’s participants remained concerned that the economic impact of the games would mainly serve the interest of multinational development companies. Some voiced unease over whether there would be a diverse and inclusive range of businesses that would see benefits from Denver hosting the winter Olympics.
There were also concerns like “Non-profits struggling for corporate and grassroots support will have all attention diverted to the games” and “How will we promote small and local business?”
Many were worried about the impact that construction, especially on the I-70 corridor which would likely require Olympics-related work, would have on vulnerable communities that have existed alongside the highway for generations.
Where some see potential
Some in attendance believed bringing the 2030 Winter Olympics would be the perfect opportunity to bring necessary changes to the city.
“This is probably the largest cross-section of civic leaders I’ve ever seen in Denver and probably the most effective group I’ve seen,” said Councilman Albus Brooks.
Some of those leaders reiterated the idea that Olympic Village athlete housing could be turned into sustainable and affordable housing after the games, and that infrastructure changes are already necessary and in the long term would allow for much-needed transit improvements along the I-70 corridor as well as providing improvements to public transit within the Denver metro area.
Almost everyone in attendance felt the games would help Denver be seen as an international city, and give Denver the opportunity to highlight its beautiful landscape and infrastructure.
Correction: An earlier version of this story incorrectly said the March 3 meeting would be a public session. That meeting is closed to the public.