Utah's Olympic boosters were told Friday what they could expect if Salt Lake City is selected to host the 2002 Winter Games.
And the person who told them is someone who should know - the head of the 1994 Winter Games in Lillehammer, Norway."Do you really realize the possibilities the Games give you? If you say yes, I say you don't really know," Petter Ronningen told the advisory committee to the Salt Lake City Bid Committee for the Olympic Winter Games.
Ronningen spoke for a half-hour during the advisory committee's quarterly meeting Friday, describing the small community's preparations for next February's Olympics, which will end up costing more than $2 billion.
The population of Lillehammer will swell from 35,000 to at least 50,000 during the Games - not counting the 100,000 or so visitors that will arrive by train daily to watch skiing and other competitions held there.
With some 2,000 athletes and four times as many media representatives, it will take a staff of more than 20,000 to run the Games and 30,000 security personnel to keep order.
The Lillehammer price tag includes $1 billion in government funds to build the needed facilities for the Games as well as an additional $1 billion in government and private funds for roads, hotels and other infrastructure.
Is it worth it? "No doubt, the answer from my point of view is yes," said Ronningen, a native of the south-central area of Norway where Lillehammer is located.
Besides debt, the area will have new facilities for winter sports when the Games are gone. Ronningen proudly showed slides of the winter sport arenas, including one designed to look like an upside-down Viking ship.
Utah's failed bid for the 1998 Winter Games carried a cost of more than $700 million. The head of Salt Lake City's bid effort, Tom Welch, said the bid for the 2002 Winter Games won't be any more expensive.
Unless, Welch said, more revenues than expected were to come in from the sale of broadcast rights and corporate sponsorships if the bid is awarded to Salt Lake City in June 1995.
"We've always said it will be income-driven. . . . We could put the Games on for as low as $450 million if we needed to. But we also want to take advantage of the revenues that come in to put on the very best Games possible."
Utah taxpayers are putting up some $56 million for a winter sports park that includes ski jumps and a bobsled and luge run, as well as for a speed-skating oval and ice-skating rinks.
The rest of the money needed to put on the Winter Games will have to come from revenues. All of the costs of the bid are being picked up by private donors, including some of the state's largest companies.
Backers of Salt Lake City's bid paid for Ronningen to come to Utah for a week and see what's been done here. He sounded impressed, especially with the construction already under way on several winter sports facilities.
"So far, what I've seen, you are almost ready . . . That's a very good concept," Ronningen said. After Lillehammer won the Games, he said time was wasted on "a big fight of no value" over where facilities should be built.
Those questions have been settled in Salt Lake City, although the city had its own problems over siting some of the winter sports facilities, especially a speed-skating oval now under construction in Kearns.
What Salt Lake City needs to do now, according to Ronningen, is focus on the 93 members of the International Olympic Committee who'll choose the host of the 2002 Winter Games two years from now.
Much of the bid committee's efforts since the loss of the 1998 Winter Games to Nagano, Japan, have been on either visiting IOC members or bringing them to Salt Lake to see the progress on the winter sports facilities.