New York lawmakers propose Olympic commission | News, Sports, Jobs

Nathan Chen of the United States competes in the men’s short program figure skating competition at the 2022 Winter Olympics, Tuesday, Feb. 8, 2022, in Beijing. The state Assembly yesterday passed legislation to create a commission to try to bring the Winter Olympics back to Lake Placid and another municipality in the state. (AP Photo/David J. Phillip)

The state Assembly on Wednesday passed legislation to create a commission to try to bring the Winter Olympics back to Lake Placid and another municipality in the state.

Assemblyman Billy Jones, D-Chateaugay Lake, drafted the bill and Senator Dan Stec, R-Queensbury, introduced a companion bill in the Senate on Wednesday. Assemblyman Matt Simpson, RCI-Horicon, said on Thursday the bill received unanimous support from the Assembly.

Jones said the state Senate still needs to pass the bill before it becomes law and a commission can be formed. The governor would also have to sign the bill into law.

Quick invoice

Simpson said Thursday that the bill began more informally, in letter form. He said that aside from Stec and Jones, there were other members of the Assembly and Senate who had talked about proposing the commission. When the idea of ​​the letter “arose” at a recent conference, Simpson said, he talked to his colleagues about stepping back and making sure everyone was on the same page about the commission. This is how Jones ended up drafting an official bill. Simpson said it works best for everyone to step back and let one person lead the way.

Local officials only heard about the bill recently, although Regional Sustainable Tourism Office CEO Jim McKenna said on Thursday that talks about co-hosting the Winter Olympics here in future had been going on for some time.

Lake Placid Village Mayor Art Devlin, who was in Greece on Thursday, said he received a phone call Saturday about the bill from a Long Island senator. Devlin thought he was “endlessly” to the conversation because the mayor of a hopeful Olympic Village is the one who formally confirms an Olympic bid. He was in favor of this possibility.

“It would be great if we could make it happen” he said.

North Elba City Supervisor Derek Doty had not yet heard of the bill when contacted by the Enterprise on Thursday.

“Wow,” said Doty.

While he said there was a slim chance Lake Placid could handle another Olympics on his own, he thought it would be “very doable” to host the Olympics here with another municipality in the state. Devlin agreed.

With more than $700 million spent upgrading local Olympic facilities, Doty said, it makes sense to put those venues to work. But Doty believed that, for now, the state’s Olympic Regional Development Authority was more focused on hosting events of a larger “manageable size” such as world cup and championship events.

Asked about the extent of ORDA’s involvement in the creation of the bill, ORDA Director of Communications Darcy Norfolk responded with a statement from the authority.

“ORDA appreciates the Assembly’s continued support for our sites in Lake Placid,” the statement read. “The 2023 FISU World University Games in Lake Placid will showcase the capacity of the North Country and New York State to host successful events. We are proud to be stewards of our heritage and environment as we plan for an exciting future.

Down the pike

McKenna said he heard about the bill for the first time “three or four weeks ago” from the office of Jones and Stec.

“If they were encouraged to do so, we certainly did not discourage them,” McKenna said.

He added that his only concern with the bill is time. Salt Lake City is already the United States candidate city for the 2030 or 2034 Winter Games, so Lake Placid would not be eligible to host those years. McKenna said if the Olympics happened again in Lake Placid, it would be “down the pike.” He said if state officials wanted to consider hosting the Olympics after 2034, “we support you. »

It’s not uncommon for an Olympic bid process to begin years in advance, according to McKenna, who believed the bid process for the 1980 Olympics began in 1968.

It has also become more common for the Winter Olympics to be split between rural and urban areas. For example, the 2022 Winter Olympics were held in three different regions across China.

McKenna echoed the thoughts of Devlin and Doty – that Lake Placid could not host the Olympics on its own and would benefit from an urban partnership. McKenna said there have been talks of hosting opening ceremonies at Yankee Stadium and on-ice events at Madison Square Garden in New York City. He mentioned that Saratoga Springs has an indoor rink for short track speed skating and that Lake Placid could better accommodate events like bobsledding and ski jumping. There has also been talk in the past of co-hosting the games with Montreal.

McKenna believed the bill was a continuation of the state’s commitment to athletic facilities in Lake Placid, even though Lake Placid is decades away from possibly hosting more Olympics.

“Having a goal like that – even if it’s well over 20 years behind – it kind of keeps this area, and maybe other areas of New York State, in the spotlight. ‘Olympic spirit’, he said.

sports village

Bringing the Olympics back to Lake Placid would mean bringing another major international sporting event to this village, which could have varying effects on the people who live here. But the Olympics wouldn’t necessarily come here without residents having a chance to decide whether or not they want the games here.

McKenna said the International Olympic Committee now requires a referendum of public support from areas that are potential bid sites before the IOC considers them as bidders.

“It’s sort of during the first go-around,” McKenna said.

Doty said he thinks residents might have a mixed reaction to the possibility of hosting more Olympics here. He believed that the overall detriment of game hosting would be the multi-billion dollar price tag that often comes with liability. He wondered if the local economy could spend so much money and produce the results needed to make those investments profitable.

However, Doty and Devlin agreed that Lake Placid is a sports village, and the state funneled millions of dollars into keeping it that way.

“We are still a winter sports capital of the world”, said Doty.

McKenna thought the Olympics might provide an opportunity to increase housing in Lake Placid, similar to how the MacKenzie Outlook housing complex is being built with athlete housing during the FISU World University Games. of 2023 in mind as a first use. McKenna said many regions have used the games as a vehicle to do community service projects.

CORRECTION: An earlier version of this story included the incorrect date the Assembly passed the legislation; it was Wednesday May 25, not Thursday May 26. The Enterprise regrets the error.

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Aurora J. William