While watching the Olympics from relatively balmy Sochi, one might wonder: why not here? Wouldn't Oregon make an excellent winter Olympics host?

It's easy to visualize: Portland could essentially be the host city. The big audience events — hockey, figure skating, ice skating — could be held at the Moda Center. The old Memorial Coliseum could also be utilized, say, for speed skating and curling.

The skiing and other outdoor events could be split between the Bend area and Mount Hood, giving the Olympics a true Oregon Cascades aura.

Can you imagine? The world, literally, would be coming through Madras and Jefferson County.

The opening/closing ceremonies would be an issue. The now-Providence Park (home of the Timbers) is likely too small for such an event. Autzen Stadium in Eugene is too far from a potential Olympic Village in this imagined Portland-based epicenter.

But, the Portland metro area has long been targeted for an outdoor stadium worthy of luring the A's out of Oakland, or Rays out of Tampa. Such a facility will someday be built in the region. An Olympic designation may hasten that.

Whether or not the investment would be worth it, of course, is the key element. The Vancouver Olympics in 2010 cost about $7 billion. A quick Web study indicates that most experts think it was indeed worth it. For one, a ton of infrastructure was built, with the large majority of the expense ($12 to $1) from federal government sources compared to local taxpayers. Our federal system wouldn’t go that far, but creative funding options exist.

There is nothing more American than corporate sponsorships. A winter Olympics in Oregon would seem a great vehicle for Nike, Oregon's most visible corporate power, to expand its winter apparel appeal. Maybe Nike could take a lead role, along with Portland and state officials, on bringing the winter Olympics to Oregon.

Give Oregon 12 or 16 years; I think it could be done, and done well. Whether it should be, whether the investment would make sense, is harder to determine — but it’s something that should be studied.

Tony Ahern

Contract Publishing

Go to top
Template by JoomlaShine