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A MALL RINK? YOU'LL LOVE IT, PROVO TELLS WARY BID PANEL

The Salt Lake Olympic Bid Committee is not sold on Provo's plans to build a practice ice sheet inside a proposed shopping mall, but the committee hasn't yet heard the city's new sales pitch.

In November the city presented plans to the committee to build a $7 million, 56,000-square-foot ice arena at North Park. The design plans and site study were completed with a $100,000 grant the city received from the Utah Sports Authority.The bid committee promised to give $3 million in 1999 for a practice ice sheet in Utah County if the Olympics are awarded to Utah in June. Provo says it will come up with the remaining funds needed to construct the facility.

However, committee members were surprised when learning through media reports that Mayor George Stewart is now proposing to include the ice sheet as part of a mall project in south Provo.

"It really caught everybody off guard because the last proposal we heard was the North Park site and we liked it," committee member Jim Young said.

Stewart said he couldn't tell the bid committee about the change in plans because JP Realty, the mall developer, is a public company. The mayor said he informed the bid committee of the new proposal the day after the mall was announced.

"I was bound by law not to talk about it earlier," Stewart said.

Putting the ice sheet in the mall could save the city as much as $2 million in construction costs. Stewart also believes the mall site is more accessible to residents from throughout the county than the North Park site. The mayor admits that having an ice sheet in the mall makes the shopping center more attractive to potential tenants.

Committee members say they don't oppose the mall location, but they would like to know more about the proposal. Young is scheduled to give a presentation on the mall plans at the committee's May meeting.

"Who knows, it might be the best of both worlds," Young said.

Young said the committee doesn't want the ice sheet to be a burden on taxpayers, but members also don't want the ice sheet's main purpose to be a mall enhancer. The committee is mainly concerned that the facility remain accessible to the public and not be operated by a private party.

"It is very important that it is open around the clock," Young said. "It should not be a fluff piece to a mall. It should be there to enhance amateur athletics."

Stewart said the city will operate the ice sheet and will design it so the facility can be secured and operated separate from the mall. The city has about $35,000 remaining from the state grant but will have to spend additional city funds to complete designs for the new proposal.

Before the city moves forward with the designs, however, the mayor wants it clear that the committee plans to give Provo, and not someone else, $3 million for an ice sheet. It was reported a couple of weeks ago that Utah Valley State College was competing with Provo for the same $3 million. Also, the bid committee's letter to the city says "Utah County" will get $3 million and does not specify Provo.

"We've done all the studying and the work necessary to build an ice sheet down here and we don't want them stringing us along if they plan on giving the money to someone else," Stewart said. "But as far as I'm concerned we have a commitment and I expect them to honor it."

Mike Korologos, bid committee spokesman, said the money will go to the best proposal for an ice sheet in Utah County, and right now that proposal is coming from Provo.

"Our main concern is that it gets built and is supported by the people of Utah County," he said.

In a letter last week to Stewart, UVSC President Kerry Romes-burg assured the mayor thecollege is not interested in building a permanent ice sheet and is not seeking the $3 million earmarked for Provo. The college has expressed interest in bringing a portable ice sheet to the 6,500-seat Utah Valley Special Events Center and hosting an Olympic venue.