The Olympic Games – Why Bozeman’s Infrastructure Isn’t Ready
It’s common knowledge that Bozeman, Montana – the hipster fixture of Big Sky Country – is making a bid for the 2026 Olympic Games. Are they ready? Experts in infrastructure say no. But with drama (and tempers) running high in Sochi, it’s hard to imagine ignoring anyone who’s willing to talk Olympics right now.
Infrastructure and the Olympics
Let’s look at the facts – despite the Big Sky committee having ideas about venues, there are an unimaginable number of details that have to be in place before a worldwide event like the Olympics can take place. Let’s take a look at what has to be considered.
Of course, Bozeman and the rest of that area in Montana have long been known for winter sports. Ski resorts in southwest Montana are the cream of the crop, and they’ve got the natural infrastructure to support ice climbing, bobsledding, and the other snowy sports that mark Winter Games. No one is questioning that – when it comes to nature, Montana has it locked down.
One of the major concerns, however, is transport from lodging to the games. Even were Bozeman to have enough rooms to support the tens of thousands of flocking Olympic spectators and sportsmen, it’s difficult to say whether their airports and roads are up to the challenge. Bozeman-Yellowstone International Airport is the largest hub in that area, serving over 360,000 passengers annually. Which would be fine, except that the Olympics would see more than that in just a matter of weeks. The airport would have to deplane about ten thousand passengers every hour to keep up with Olympic droves, and frankly, they can’t do it.
Lodging is a must, given the sheer magnitude of the crowds that will funnel into the city. Between athletes, volunteers, spectators, and the bevy of assistants, crews, officiators, judges, support teams, vendors, and advertisers that swoop in, it’s unlikely that Bozeman – as they stand today – would have enough rooms.
According to builders – like renowned international cement mogul Charlie Bouri – it’s hard to imagine investors who would help Bozeman build the hotels they would need to host the bid.
“Sure, they’re going to be filled to overflowing when the Olympics come,” he remarked. “But these hotels have an expiration date. A few weeks after the Olympics, they’ll be ghost towns. What kind of investor is going to get involved with that?”
Although several Montana cities would be involved in creating the infrastructure, many have expressed doubt over
Numbers have been thrown around – $20 million most prominently – to erect a “hotel district” of sorts to handle this. But between zoning, building, capital improvements, amenities, transport, and everything else that’s been mentioned, that’s barely pennies in a jar – especially given the rumored $40 billion that Sochi had to drop to host this year’s Winter Olympics.
No, sir, Bozeman will need more than the change in their couch cushions to make a bid, and given the extremely scant benefits of doing so once the Olympics have moved on, many are saying that it’s a dream best left to wither.
About the Author: Michael Newsham is a columnist, musician, author, and marketing professional from Philadelphia, PA. His blog, Stark Raving Normal, tackles social issues, music and arts, and more.
Photo Credits: Wikipedia