A Colorado Company Behind Colorado’s Bid for the Olympics

Have you ever wondered how cities submit a bid to host the Olympics, or how those cities get ready to host such a large event? Those jobs often fall to the event planning division of the architecture company Populous, whose office is located right here in Colorado.

Populous has worked with the International Olympic Committee on numerous winter and summer Olympics all over the world. While their foundation in architecture lends itself to the construction of new sports facilities, Populous also does a lot of work before the event location is even chosen. For example, this past year, the company assisted Colorado with its bid for the 2030 Winter Olympics. Populous worked hard to determine whether Colorado could and should host the games.

“We were part of the exploratory committee that put together a master plan for Colorado’s hosting of the games,” explains Jeff Keas, senior principal with Populous’ Denver event planning division. “We work on transportation planning and security planning. We also worked on the sports side, doing research into the sporting events that Colorado has hosted in the last 10 to 15 years.”

Determining whether Colorado should host the Olympics included surveying local mountain community residents to see if they would be favorable to the games coming to their towns.
“There’s been a lot of community outreach done over a four-month process where we talked to over 30,000 Coloradans, and there was a significant majority that was in favor of the games,” Keas says.

Populous also provided the IOC with a detailed assessment of what Olympic-adaptable facilities already exist in the Rockies, what new facilities might need to be built, and how those new facilities would be used after the games are over. The IOC wants to prevent the Olympics from becoming an economic burden for the hosting cities, requiring them to provide a long-term plan for all new construction.

“Whenever we can take existing facilities and just add temporary components to permanent operational structures, that’s what we want to do,” Keas says. “We put together a budget and included a detailed cost estimate with the exploratory committee’s report.”

Salt Lake City did the same thing and, with its ability to utilize facilities built for the 2002 Olympic Games, its proposal came in lower than Denver’s and offered a more traditional approach to the Games. In December, the IOC decided Denver was no longer in the running. Salt Lake City became the U.S. candidate to host the 2030 Winter Olympics. The IOC is expected to announce the 2030 Olympic host city in 2023.