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WORDS FLY AS UTAHNS STEP UP DEBATE ON FUNDING OF GAMES

SHARE WORDS FLY AS UTAHNS STEP UP DEBATE ON FUNDING OF GAMES

With the vote on public funding to host the Olympic Games coming up in a week, opponents and proponents stepped up their campaigns to influence voters.

Here's an update on what occurred Monday:-Merrill Cook, chairman of the new Independent Party of Utah, said leaders of Utah's Olympic effort say they must get a 70 percent voter-approval rating or their chances of being selected by the International Olympic Committee "are very slim."

Since polls show 55-65 percent support for the Games, Cook said it's foolish for Utahns to approve the Nov. 7 vote only to see the IOC reject Utah's bid and the $56 million be wasted.

Cook quoted Pat Shea, a member of the Olympic committee, as saying the 70 percent support level must be achieved or the IOC won't pick Utah. Shea disputes Cook's analysis of what he told a civic group two weeks ago.

"I said our chances before the international committee would be diminished if we didn't get a significant majority. I used the 70 percent figure later in the discussion, but at no time did I say we must reach the 70 percent level," Shea said.

The Legislature has agreed to divert 1/32 percent of the sales tax to finance $56 million in pre-Olympic construction - a bobsled and luge run, ice skating rink and ski jumps.

The United States Olympic Committee picked Salt Lake City as the U.S. bid city for 1998 and 2002. One condition for receiving the bid is those facilities must be under construction before the IOC picks the site for the 1998 Winter Games in June 1991.

That's Cook's main objection to next week's non-binding referendum vote. "We're asked to vote on something that the people don't really understand. They think this is a vote for or against the Olympics. But it isn't. It's a vote for or against public funding of the Games and whether we should risk tax dollars before we even know if we're going to get the Games."

Cook's party opposes public funding of the Games but supports hosting the Games if only private money is used.

-Three minority advisory councils endorsed the state's Olympic bid, saying the Games would create an economic impact felt throughout Utah's minority communities.

The councils include the Governor's Black Advisory Council, the Governor's Hispanic Advisory Council and the Governor's Asian Advisory Council.

"Utah's minority groups stand to benefit greatly from the international exposure Salt Lake and Utah would receive from the Games," said Clifton Wilkes, chairman of the Governor's Black Advisory Council.

-Peter Ueberroth, former Major League Baseball commissioner and credited with making the 1984 Summer Olympics a financial success, may be in Salt Lake City Tuesday to make a pitch for Utah's Olympic bid.

"Olympics for Utah," the group organizing the marketing campaign in support of the Games, said Ueberroth is tentatively scheduled to arrive at 1 p.m. and hold a press conference at the Governor's Board Room in the State Capitol at 2:30 p.m.

She said Ueberroth will endorse the state's bid to host the 1998 Winter Games. He is also expected to explain the economic benefits of hosting the Olympics.

-Logan City has joined Provo and Ogden as a contender for speed-skating events.

Utah State University leads the charge, touting Cache Valley as the location with "several advantages over any other potential contender."

-Bountiful City Council members decided not to take an official position on Salt Lake City's bid for the Winter Olympics. They said voters would have an opportunity to voice their opinion in November and that the ballot box is the appropriate place for such an endorsement or rejection to be made.