(ATR) That’s strike two for Denver.
Forty-seven years after a statewide referendum forced the Colorado capital to give back the 1976 Olympic Winter Games, Denver citizens faced another Olympic issue and again voted thumbs down.
Actually, they checked the box for “yes,” but that’s just the way the ordinance was written., Denver voters overwhelmingly opted to prohibit officials from funding future Olympic bids with public money or resources without voter approval.
Among nearly 150,000 ballots, the margin was 79.23 percent in favor of Proposition 302, with 20.77 percent against. By 11:30 p.m. Tuesday night, there were 106,302 “yes” votes, 27,874 “no” votes and 13,891 abstained.
Backers began lobbying for the ordinance last year while Denver was among three finalists to become the U.S. bid city for 2030. By the time the U.S. Olympic Committee chose Salt Lake City in December (following the withdrawal of Reno-Tahoe), Prop 302 had picked up enough steam to remain an issue.
Earlier this year, enough people signed the petition to get it onto the ballot:
"Shall the voters of the City and County of Denver enact a measure prohibiting the use of public monies, resources or fiscal guarantees in connection with any future Olympic Games, without the City
first obtaining voter approval at a regularly scheduled municipal election or special election should the City decide to use public monies, resources, or guarantees for this purpose?"
The lopsided victory for the Prop 302 proponents doesn’t bode well for a future bid, which would have be approved by the voters before any public money could be spent. That could lead to strike three.
“Denver doesn’t need to be hosting the Olympics,” Jim Culhane told the Denver Post
. “Denver can’t handle what it has now – how could it handle the Olympics?”
The city could have shown how it would handle the Games in 1976, but never got the chance.
In November 1972, Colorado voters were asked to authorize a $5 million bond issue to help finance the Games, which were awarded to Denver in 1970. Having public money available to stage the Games was an IOC requirement.
The bond issue failed by almost a 60-40 margin – 537,440 to 358,906. A week later Denver stepped down as Olympic host city and Innsbruck, the 1964 host city, agreed to take over.
Denver promoted itself as a candidate for the 2018 Winter Games, but the USOC decided to put all of its efforts behind the Chicago 2016 bid.
Now Salt Lake City is carrying the baton for the USOC and Denver voters won’t have to wrestle with another Olympic vote for a long time -- if ever.
Reported by Karen Rosen.
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