Aiming to make Salt Lake City not only the host of the the 1998 Winter Olympics but also the "winter sports capital of the United States," the Salt Lake Winter Games Organizing Committee met Friday to craft an Olympic bid.
The committee - composed of 56 government, business, education and sports leaders - must prepare a bid to present to the U.S. Olympic Committee, who will choose a U.S. city in June to bid internationally for the Games.The Winter Games group scheduled meetings for the six subcommittees formed Friday to begin the $150,000 to $200,000 bidding process, which Salt Lake Mayor Palmer DePaulis said would be "a deliberate and careful process."
The focus of the Olympic bid has changed from a single interest in hosting the Olympic Games to creating a winter sports training facility for long-term use by winter athletes, DePaulis said.
"It appears now the focus is whether we want to become the winter training and sports capital of the western United States," he told the group meeting in a committee room in the Salt Lake County Complex, 2001 S. State.
That focus comes from a poor U.S. showing in the 1988 Winter Olym-pics in Calgary, Canada, and a sentiment among the USOC that competitiveness could improve with more U.S. facilities, committee Chairman Tom Welch said.
"The city that's going to be selected is going to have to respond to that," he said, especially since the USOC last month voted to require bidding cities to show commitment to the Games by providing an estimated $25 million in financing for facilities such as a bobsled-luge run.
Already, Welch said, the community is demonstrating Olympic commitment by building an Olympic-class cross-country ski track and by hosting World Cup ski events at surrounding ski resorts.
The executive Winter Games committee will meet four times before a bid is submitted while subcommittees - including finance, technical, site visitation, communications and audit committees - will meet more frequently.
The audit committee was established partly in response to findings of an city audit questioning expenditures of city money by Better Utah Inc., a private sports promotion group pursing an Olympic bid, Welch said.
"There's no question that Better Utah pointed out the need to have accounting," he said.
The bidding process is expected to cost an estimated $150,000 to $200,000. DePaulis said that money should be privately raised but the city will establish a contingency fund to use if necessary.
Better Utah returned $13,000 to the city and the city retained $30,000 it was to give to Better Utah before the audit, DePaulis said. That money could be used for the contingency, he said.
The tenor of the meeting was mostly positive, although members of an opposition group attended. Olympic opponent Alexis Kelner distributed a letter and a bumper sticker reading "No Tax $ for Olympics."
DePaulis said little public funding would be used."But we're going to at some point have to commit some public money," he said, adding the committee must ask the state for bonding funds to fulfill the USOC finance requirement.
City Councilwoman Sydney Fonnesbeck, once an outspoken critic of a Salt Lake Olympics, said her "No. 1 issue" is still preserving the environment from severe impact by the Olympics.
Five other cities - Denver; Anchorage, Alaska; Reno-Lake Tahoe, Nev.; Lake Placid, N.Y.; and Klamath Falls, Ore. - are also bidding for the Games.
The USOC will vote on a U.S. city to send before the International Olympic Committee, which in 1991 will choose a city to host the 1998 Winter Olympics.