"And the 1998 Winter Games go to . . . "

What if Salt Lake City isn't the name read by the International Olympic Committee President Juan Antonio Samaranch next Saturday in Birmingham, England?It's a possibility that no one wants to talk about before the IOC decision, fearing any discussion would jinx Salt Lake City's chances of getting the Games.

But if the IOC chooses any of the cities competing with Salt Lake - Nagano, Japan; Ostersund, Sweden; Aosta, Italy; or Jaca, Spain - there will be some

tough decisions to be made.

Two of the most difficult will be whether to bid for the 2002 Winter Games and whether to go ahead with spending $56 million in tax dollars on winter sports facilities.

The official line from Utah's Olympic supporters throughout the bid process has been that those decisions have been made, and the community stands by both of them.

Now, though, even the biggest boosters reluctantly acknowledge that they'll have to convince the public to go for the Games again, even though the United States Olympic Committee has promised to stand by Salt Lake City for 2002.

"If we don't get the bid, the community and the community leadership needs to come back and look at it and decide," said Tom Welch, chairman of the Salt Lake City Bid Committee for the Olympic Winter Games.

The commitment from the USOC came with a price that Utahns may also decide to reconsider if Salt Lake City doesn't get the 1998 Winter Games - that price is building the $56 million in winter sports facilities.

Some legislators, especially those from communities outside the Wasatch Front, are already reportedly mulling over the idea of repealing the legislation that created the set-aside of 1/32nd of a cent of sales tax.

That legislation was approved by voters in a referendum in the fall of 1989, although many likely were not aware that the money was going to be spent regardless of whether Salt Lake City hosted the Games.

There has always been concern from some rural lawmakers that their constituents weren't getting a good deal, since all of the facilities will be built in or near the state's largest communities.

Now there is also increasing pressure from education as well as health and human services advocates for more money to keep up with ever-growing budget needs.

Those two factors may make it impossible for legislators to ignore the $56 million spending plan for facilities, none of which are actually under construction yet, if Salt Lake City doesn't get the '98 Games.

"That's understandable," said Neal Stowe, director of the state Division of Facilities and Construction Management, which is responsible for getting the facilities built. "We're being optimistic."

Stowe recently discussed what will happen if Utah doesn't get the Games with directors of the Salt Lake Area Chamber of Commerce and suggested ways to counter any attempt to stop construction.

One of Stowe's biggest worries is how to pay to run and maintain the facilities without the hundreds of millions of dollars in revenue an Olympics would generate.

The $56 million in sales tax dollars will cover operation and maintenance costs only through 1996 on the facilities, which include a bobsled and luge track, ski jumps and ice rinks.

Stowe and others involved in the bid process say they don't intend to go back on a promise to voters during the referendum election, that no more tax dollars would be used for the Olympic effort.

That potential financial dilemma also increases the likelihood the expenditure will be reconsidered if the 1998 Winter Games are not held in Salt Lake City.

Welch, however, said the price of reneging on a commitment to what he likes to call the "Olympic family" may be too high. "We have formed a partnership with the world of sport," Welch said.


GRAPHIC\ Local Olympic activities

The Olympic party won't be confined to Birmingham

While members of the Salt Lake City Bid Committee for the Olympic Winter Games lobby the International Olympic Committee halfway around the world, Utahns are encouraged to take part in festivities closer to home, said Deborah Bayle, vice president of the Salt Lake Area Chamber of Commerce.

The City-County Building, 451 S. State, will be the site of a public celebration June 14 and 15, which organizers say will be the last chance for Utahns to demonstrate to IOC members their commitment to the Olympic effort.

"The reason anyone would want to go would be to show their support for Salt Lake City's bid, to be where the live action is and see the actual vote," said Bayle.

The following is a schedule of activities:

Friday, June 14

6 p.m. Introduction and welcome by Lt. Gov. Val Oveson.

6-8 p.m. Rick Wyman, Contemporary/Jazz band

8-10 p.m. Joe Muscolino's Big Band

10 p.m. Lt. Gov. Val Oveson illuminates lights on City County Building and begins fireworks display. Utahns who want to show their support for Utah's Olympic bid may leave their porch lights on this evening.

Saturday, June 15

9:30 a.m. Olympic torch run to City-County Building by Henry Marsh. Run will begin at the State Capitol.

10 a.m. Children's Corridor formed for lighting of Olympic flame, West Stage.

Jay Welch Chorale, West Stage.

Salt Lake Children's Choir, North Stage.

Ski hill, ski jump and winter activity areas open for demonstrations.

10:30 a.m. Children's Dance Theatre, West Stage.

Creative Generation Musical Theater, North Stage.

11 a.m. Repertory Dance Theater, West Stage.

Powder Ridge Bluegrass Band, North Stage.

11:30 a.m. International Olympic Committee Program, live BBC satellite telecast from Birmingham, England.

Noon Sky diving exhibition.

Televised 1998 Winter Olympic announcement live from Birmingham, North Stage.

12:30 p.m. Ballet West, West Stage.

1 p.m. Walter & Hays Band; top-40, nostalgic, West Stage.

Amnesia Jazz Quintet, North Stage.

2 p.m. The LynnDee Mueller Band, country western, North Stage.


(Additional information)

U.S. support

The U.S. House of Representatives was expected to pass a resolution Tuesday supporting Salt Lake City's bid to host the 1998 Winter Olympics. In the resolution, Congress advises the International Olympic Committee that it would welcome the Winter Olympics in Salt Lake City and expresses its sincere hope that Salt Lake City will be selected. The resolution makes no financial commitments.