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REPORT PREDICTS $1.7 BILLION BOON FOR UTAH

SHARE REPORT PREDICTS $1.7 BILLION BOON FOR UTAH

Employment will rise by almost 20,000 people, state and local government will see tax revenues increase by $108 million, and Utahns can expect to see $1.7 billion of economic benefit - all if Utah hosts the 2002 Winter Olympics.

All that according to an economic report issued Thursday by the state Office of Planning and Budget, which estimated net spending by Olympic organizers and visitors would be about $624 million."The numbers speak for themselves," said Gov. Mike Leavitt during a Thursday press conference before leaving for Paris to woo the International Olympic Committee. "We are very optimistic about the economic prospect and the cultural impact, both being very positive."

But could Utah actually lose money hosting the games as did other hosts of Winter Olympics? "I don't think the games will run a deficit. I have never been involved in a business expecting a loss or not expecting to succeed," he said.

In projecting the costs, officials patterned figures and estimates on Calgary's experience in hosting the 1988 Winter Games, said Brad Barber, who wrote the report.

"We know what happened in Lillehammer and Albertville, but they are smaller communities than Calgary and Salt Lake City," he said. "Calgary is much more like Utah. The events, the size of the area and the number of spectators expected are much more similar there. And their organizing committee didn't lose money."

Still, Leavitt admits there are risks involved in hosting the Olympics. No one really knows what the world will look like eight years from now. That unpredictability mandates the state "put on games that match the revenues," he said.

The rosy economic forecast does not include a $59 million pool of funds generated by state sales taxes that officials have promised to return to taxpayers.

Tourists are expected to spend $173 million, while television would shell out $43.6 million.

Although all Utah communities would receive a share of the surplus, most of the economic benefit would be felt along the Wasatch Front, figures show.

But what happens if Utah does not win the bid to host the Olympics? "We have a longer-term agenda to make Utah a winter sports capital," Leavitt said, confidently predicting Utah will be among the four finalists for the bid.

And, he promised, Utah will "put on Olympic games the likes of which the world has never seen before."

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ADDITIONAL INFORMATION

Olympic revenue: Salt Lake City - 2002

WHAT WILL BE SPENT

Total related spending $1,014,100,000*

Less local expenditures** -$389,900,000

Total $624,200,000

ECONOMIC BENEFIT TO THE STATE

Total $1,724,000,000

Tax revenue (included in total) $108,000,000

New jobs 20,000

*Includes money spent by Olympic organizers and out-of-state visitors.

**Money normally spent in Utah. Includes Legacy Fund and $59 million Olympic tax contribution.