They gave a couple of international sporting events in Salt Lake City over the weekend, and nobody came.
Still, they want to do it again. And maybe again after that.There were problems with the inaugural Olympic Cup gymnastics and boxing competition, a made-for-TV multinational event, but aside from attendance, it was considered a success by ABC, the U.S. Olympic Committee, U.S. Amateur Boxing and the U.S. Gymnastics Federation. Those groups are talking about continuing the Cup.
As for attendance, nothing much could be expected. The above-named groups came to the Utah Sports Foundation asking it to put on the event less than two months ago. Shortly after that, the Olympic Committee's marketing people told ABC it couldn't use the word "Olympic." They wrangled for a month or more about it, keeping the USF from being able to promote or advertise the meet or get sponsorships until just about a week ago.
Also, it was poor timing, chosen for TV's convenience. How ya gonna draw people in Salt Lake City at 11:30 on Sunday morning? Or on a Saturday afternoon against the Arts Festival and the Hill Field birthday celebration that drew hundreds of thousands?
Still, the nonprofit USF probably won't lose. The sports federations paid to fly athletes here, leaving hotel-meal-arena expenses to the USF. "With the small amount we needed to raise, we felt we could do that. Right now, we're just going to cover costs," says the USF's Rainer Dahl.
Though many Utahns weren't aware of the meet, Dahl says it wasn't a mistake. "It was a success for ABC and for the federations," he said. As long as the federations are happy, they'll be willing to bring more events here.
Organizers are talking about coming back to Salt Lake City with Cup events next year. "This is going to be a hot property. It will get stronger and stronger," predicted Sheila Walker, who oversees USOC competitions. "It has a lot of appeal. With the proper amount of time to promote to a local market, it will come on very quickly."