Oregon 2028? Effort to bring Olympics to Portland

Could the summer Olympics come to Oregon?

PORTLAND, Ore. -- Could the Summer Olympics be coming to Oregon? A local company is exploring the possibility and wants to know what you think about it.

"We really want to do it as the Oregon 2028 games," said Damian Smith, who hatched the plan about a year ago. His company, Pepper Foster Consulting, had just gotten off the ground and his team was focused on a lofty goal.

"Being the company or organization that had the largest positive impact on the lives of Oregonians in the first half of the 21st century," said Smith, who believes bringing the Olympics here could accomplish that.

This website breaks down logistics, costs and potential Olympic venues across the state. Olympic rules have relaxed and no longer require the venues be in the same city. Smith said in Oregon's case, the track & field events would be in Eugene and sailing events on the coast, for example.

Smith said Portland would need a swimming venue and a new stadium—something he thinks could be the future home of the Timbers, or a Major League Baseball team. There would also be a need for more hotel space and an Olympic village. Smith's answer for that is building green, affordable housing that would only be used as hotel space during the Olympics. 

"By focusing on the things we need in this state going forward and using the Olympics as a catalyst and a deadline and a funding source, we would get access to approximately $9 billion in private and federal funding that we wouldn't have access to without the Olympics," Smith said. "We can use that money to make a positive impact on the lives of Oregonians."

In the 1980s, Olympic luger Jack Elder led an effort to bring the Winter Olympics to Oregon.

"Without the help from the large businesses, we couldn't do it so we decided to abandon the effort," said Elder.

Times are different now. Oregon's business landscape is growing, but Elder pointed out that host cities rarely win an Olympic bid on the first try.

"I'd be stunned but certainly I'd be happy," said Elder. "Anytime you can host the Olympic games in your city, you become forever an Olympic city."

For Smith, the priority now is finding out what the public thinks—the pros and the cons.

"For this to be successful, the only reason to do it is if there a positive impact for the lives of Oregonians," said Smith. "If it turns out that that's not possible, then we don't want to have anything to do with it and we'll walk away."

The city of Los Angeles is bidding for the 2024 Summer Olympic games. If they win it, Smith said that would mean the end of the Oregon 2028 effort.

The International Olympic Committee will announce their decision for the 2024 games in September 2017. Until then, Smith said he'll continue gathering feedback on the concept and looking into the feasibility of bringing the Olympics to Oregon.



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