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Olympic Village: Funding Issues

Reno Arch with 1960 Olympics poster beneath it.

Upon hearing the news that his bid to bring the 1960 Olympics to Squaw Valley was successful, Alec Cushing faced the accusation from Avery Brundage, president of the International Olympic Committee (IOC), of “setting the Olympic movement back 25 years." Winning the bid was only the first hurdle in a very long race. The award was contingent on “substantial progress” being made in the next six months.

With only nominal, token funding in hand, the next task would be to secure financial support from the U.S. Congress as well as both the California and Nevada Legislatures.

Olympic newsletter article with photo of Squaw Valley.

With only a paltry $1 million committed by the state of California, the road to Olympic glory would be not be smooth. The initial estimate of $1 million quickly ballooned to $5 million. Both state and federal legislators balked, but funding came through at the 11th hour. California would ultimately spend close to $10 million dollars with additional funding coming from the federal government and corporate sponsors. The state of Nevada, initially a little sore after losing their Olympic bid to Squaw Valley, would kick in another $500,000. U.S. Senator Alan Bible (D-Nevada) saw the potential economic boon to Reno and his home state and quickly got involved. He would play a key role in obtaining critical funding, military support and navigating the tricky political waters between communist China, the Republic of Taiwan and the IOC. The total bill for Cushing’s ‘publicity stunt’ would come to just over $22 million.

One year later, in January 1956, representatives from the Squaw Valley Olympic Winter Games committee appeared before the IOC having finally secured the necessary funding just ahead of a critical deadline. Brundage had threatened to award the games to Innsbruck if the California legislature failed to appropriate adequate money in support of the bid. Finally, on April 4, 1956, Brundage reluctantly acquiesced and officially awarded the 1960 Winter Olympic Games to Squaw Valley.