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UTAH COMMUNITIES LEARN CRUEL LESSON IN GAMES BIDDING

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Utah communities that contended Olympic organizers once promised to make their communities home to sports venues are learning the cruel lessons of an international Olympic bidding battle.

The lessons came as the Utah Sports Authority voted in lock-step with recommendations from the Salt Lake Olympic Bid Committee Tuesday afternoon to award a $30.1 million winter sports park to Summit County, a $4.9 million speed-skating oval to Salt Lake City and named three other sites for ice rinks.The three ice-rink sites include an undetermined location in Ogden, at the Steiner Aquatics Center near the University of Utah in Salt Lake City and at Seven Peaks Resort in Provo. The Sports Authority board now has only $3 million to spend - enough to fund about two-thirds of an ice rink at one site.

The money for the venues will come from the diversion of 1/32nd-cent sales tax, amassing an estimated $54 million over 10 years, to go to the Sports Authority for construction of the three facilities.

In addition to the Utah Sports Authority's decision, the Salt Lake Olympic Bid Committee announced its final decisions for other venue sites, which are not funded by tax dollars, at a press conference on Tuesday (see graphic).

For cities up and down the Wasatch Front the hard lessons learned Tuesday looked like this:

Don't expose speed-skating ice to the heat of the Olympic flame.

That was the lesson for Ogden and Provo, which at the last minute withdrew proposals for a $4.9 million speed-skating oval, after Tom Welch, chairman of the Salt Lake Olympic Bid Committee, called them and said that such proposals would hurt Utah's bid for the 1998 Winter Olympics. Welch said that he expects other bidding cities, including Nagano, Japan, and Ostersund, Sweden, to "start shooting at us" because venue sites were too spread out.

That irked some Weber County representatives who said they had been told by Welch that proximity would not figure into the final site determination for the speed-skating oval.

"People are going to say, `What the hell is going on?' This is a typical bait and switch," said Cliff Goff, member of the board and former mayor of Ogden.

It also miffed James Young, a board member from Provo, who said that when voters cast a majority of ballots to spend tax money on Olympic venues there was a sense that the venues would be spread all along the Wasatch Front.

Instead, the bid committee recommended and a majority of Sports Authority members conditionally approved an oval site next to the Steiner Aquatic Center next to the U. The biggest condition for the oval is whether it will fit on the site. There are also questions about whether land can be acquired from the U. and Veterans Administration Medical Center.

The oval would be uncovered and construction is scheduled to begin next year. If Salt Lake City gets the 1998 Winter Olympics bid next June in Birmingham, England, it would use television revenues to enclose the structure.

Don't have so much Olympic spirit.

That was the lesson Bountiful learned from Welch, who said that Olympic ice rinks should be placed in other cities because Bountiful already has a proven track record in training ice skaters and hockey players. He said he wants to spread the training opportunities around.

Bountiful officials had hoped that track record would have worked for them in obtaining a second ice sheet next to an existing one at its recreation center. They said the two ice sheets would have provided more opportunities for training Olympic-class skaters and creating a training center in Utah.

"We are really penalized for a quality program. Their comments were that we were doing well and have great program so let's pass the opportunities on to other communities," said Bountiful Mayor Robert Linnell.

"It was a disappointment because I believed the program would be fair and objective. The process came down to political considerations and it was obviously geographically oriented to a major extent."

Only one board member, David Adams from Bountiful, supported the Bountiful bid. Near the end of the meeting, he made a motion to allow Bountiful to be included in the new bid process for ice sheets. The motion failed for lack of a second.

Get your act together before the board acts.

That was the tone of the board as it heard proposals Tuesday from Utah County and Weber County.

While Provo Mayor Joe Jenkins wrote the Sports Authority, contending that Utah County had withdrawn its speed-skating oval bid and was united behind an ice rink at Seven Peaks Resort, the Sports Authority got another story when representatives of Orem and Utah Valley Community College showed up to pitch their ice-sheet proposal for the college campus.

In the end, Seven Peaks Resort was chosen as one of the sites for three practice ice sheets that the Olympic Bid Committee says it will eventually need if Salt Lake City gets the 1998 Winter Olympics bid.

From Weber County, the board heard confusing messages from Ogden Sports Authority board member, Allan Lipman, and Ogden Mayor Scott Sneddon. Sneddon said that its designated ice rink should go downtown. Lipman, who said he was representing the Weber County Commission, made a motion to put the ice sheet on a site at Weber State College. This new site had never been looked at before by the Sports Authority.

Finally, after a 7-8 vote that almost gave $3 million to Salt Lake City for an ice rink at the Steiner Aquatic Center, the board told Weber County and Ogden to agree on a single site and return with Salt Lake City and Provo in 60 days for a final board vote.