Home / World News / Opponents of Denver Olympics file proposed ballot initiative as committee nears recommendation

Opponents of Denver Olympics file proposed ballot initiative as committee nears recommendation

Opponents organized under the “NOlympics” banner have filed a proposed Denver ballot initiative aimed at establishing a right of refusal for voters before the city could spend public money to seek or host the Winter Games.

The measure is set for a review and comment hearing with a City Council attorney Tuesday afternoon. If the NOlympics Colorado Committee is successful in collecting 4,726 signatures from verified registered Denver voters in coming months, the initiative would appear on the November ballot.

It’s still unclear whether Denver and Colorado will bid for the 2030 Olympics, but the question could be resolved in the next month or so, as the Denver Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games Exploratory Committee finishes its work.

Local exploratory leaders have sketched out ideas for a privately financed hosting effort.

But a leader of the opposition effort says the ballot measure will serve as a way to “call their bluff.”

“If it’s a truly private initiative — which we know it’s not — then let’s codify that,” said Kyle Zeppelin, a co-chairman of the NOlympics committee.

Exploratory committee chairman Rob Cohen has conceded that while it might be possible to harness private funding to cover the estimated $1.5 billion to $2 billion hosting tab, the use of some federal and local government resources may be unavoidable. Those potential public costs include some security and the likely use of public facilities, provisions that Cohen says are similar to what the city provides for other large events.

As drafted, the proposed ballot language would establish a new provision under the Elections section of the municipal code that says further voter approval is required before the city can use public resources in certain ways in connection with hosting the games.

It invokes three potential uses for the games: covering financial guarantees, providing public safety services or mobilizing other city employees, and appropriating money for the use of city facilities. It also covers the use of city money or employees to bid for the games.

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