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Corradini learns Games pluses, minuses from other mayors

Salt Lake Mayor Deedee Corradini heard about the pluses and minuses of hosting the Winter Games during a conference of mayors from other host cities Sunday.

"We are really here to learn," Corradini told reporters.She said she's been impressed with Nagano's emphasis on children during the 1998 Winter Games. The mayor said she'd like to see Salt Lake City implement the "One School - One Country" program that has taught Nagano students about the record 72 countries sending teams to compete here.

"To see what they learned about the United States was impressive," Corradini said, adding that she was deeply moved by their singing of the U.S. national anthem at a welcoming ceremony.

She was joined at the conference by Nagano Mayor Tasuku Tsukada as well as mayors from Lillehammer, Norway, which hosted the Winter Games in 1994; Albertville, France, 1992; Calgary, Canada, 1988; and Sapporo, Japan, 1972.

Much of their closed-door discussion Sunday morning centered around the impact the Olympics have on a city, especially financially. As much as $10 billion or more has been spent in the Nagano area.

That's primarily government funding, for a new bullet train connection to Tokyo and other infrastructure improvements as well as the futuristic sports facilities constructed throughout the region.

While Utah is getting federal help with I-15 and other transportation projects, the facilities built for the 2002 Winter Games will be paid for from corporate sponsorship revenues and other private sources.

The mayors spoke about how the investment in the Winter Games have paid off for their cities. "The most positive fallout of the Games in a ski region is that it's very good for tourism," Albertville Mayor Michel Bailly said.

The '92 Games also introduced the popular ski area to ice sports, he said. "People opened their minds up to new ways of doing things. New technologies. New cultures," Bailly said.

The '88 Games helped get Calgary through tough economic times, Calgary Mayor Al Duerr said. "They were a wonderful way to bring our people together," he said. "In many respects our city came of age."

Sapporo, too, got an image boost from hosting the '72 Games, Sapporo Mayor Nobuo Katsura said. "The name Sapporo gained recognition around the world," he said. "It is the starting point, perhaps the first point of passage."

But the facilities built for those Games have not fared so well. "Some facilities are not fit for use," Katsura said, although those built with municipal monies are in better shape.

The mayors signed a declaration Sunday calling for future Winter Games hosts to use existing facilities as much as possible to lessen the environmental impact. New construction, they said, should be minimized.

That could mean that future Winter Games could be shared by cities. For example, Helsinki, Finland, is currently bidding for the 2006 Winter Games with Lillehammer, so facilities there can be shared.

Corradini said she has already asked the other mayors to meet again, in Salt Lake City in 2002. She noted that she will be the first women mayor to accept the Olympic flag in a ceremony at the close of the Nagano Games.

That will mark the transfer of the Winter Games from Nagano to Salt Lake City. After the closing ceremonies on Feb. 22, the Olympic flag will be brought back to Salt Lake City.