Long-time Olympic critic Alexis Kelner has crystalized his oft-times acerbic and droll arguments against a Winter Games in Utah in a book to be released before Salt Lake City presents its 1998 Winter Olympics bid.
"Utah's Olympics Circus" will be released the week of May 22, Kelner said, two weeks before the city bids before the U.S. Olympic Committee in Des Moines, Iowa, June 4, for the Winter Games."The general message is that the Olympics are a costly deal. Unless you have a rich sugar daddy, you ought not to be involved," Kelner told the Deseret News.
The 80-page paperback book includes written text and nearly three dozen cartoons and is aimed primarily at "keeping the dialogue alive" surrounding the Games and its approval or disapproval during a fall Olympics referendum.
Proceeds from book sales - if the city wins the U.S. bid - will go toward continuing "a vigorous public debate during the forthcoming statewide Olympics referendum," Kelner wrote in the book's introduction.
The book - dedicated to the Roman emperor Flavius Theodosius, who banned the Olympic Games in the Fourth Century, B.C. - focuses on the history of the Olympic Games and of Salt Lake City's six Winter Olympics bids.
In past Winter Olympics, Kelner wrote, hosting cities drained public coffers of millions of dollars. Winter Games in Squaw Valley, Calif., cost taxpayers nine times the original projections, and Lake Placid, N.Y., spent $115 million in public money while hosting the 1980 Winter Games.
The history of Winter Games is one of expansive increases in Olympic budgets, Kelner said in his book. Original cost projections for the 1988 Winter Olympics in Calgary, Canada, were $415 million.
By the end of the Games the budget had burgeoned to $970 million, including contributions totaling $425 million from Canadian governments. That public subsidy prompted Kelner to question whether the Calgary Games, which boasted of a $32 million surplus, were a financial success.
"With such a generous public subsidy for facility construction, maintenance and operation, an incredible amount of bungling would have been necessary to fail in achieving a significant surplus," he wrote.
In a chapter entitled "Who Profits, Who Pays," Kelner wrote that local organizing committees gunning for the Olympics benefit from relatively small portions of the actual revenue generated by the event.
At Calgary, for example, $141 million of a $309 million negotiated contract "remained for the organizers to use as they wished" after the International Olympic Committee made its deductions.
What's more, Olympic revenue is on the decline, Kelner wrote, because of shrinking Nielsen ratings for Olympic broadcasts, which in turn erode at the amount networks are willing to pay for media rights.
And a change in IOC contracts - what once was a split allotting local organizers 60 percent of Olympics revenue and the IOC 40 percent - will be reduced to a 50-50 split, Kelner wrote.