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How many tickets to Games for Utahns?

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Olympic organizers promised that Utahns will be able to buy tickets to every event during the 2002 Winter Games. But just how many tickets will be available - and how much they'll cost - is yet to be decided.

Also, the Salt Lake Organizing Committee is planning to spend a day next month with community leaders from around the state to listen to their ideas about getting the public involved in the Olympics.Both announcements came during Thursday's meeting of the SLOC Board of Trustees, where organizing committee leaders acknowledged there's a lot the public wants to know about the Olympics.

"We are working very hard at keeping the public informed of our work," SLOC Chief Executive Officer Frank Joklik told the trustees. "Communication with the public is right at the top of our list of priorities."

How to get tickets for the Olympics may be the question that organizers hear most frequently from the public. Mark Tanner, the chief financial officer for SLOC, offered the first glimpse of the 2002 ticket program Thursday.

"Our intent is to make tickets available to Utahns for all events," Tanner said. But that's as far as the planning has gone. No decision has been made on how many tickets will be made available for Utahns.

Tanner said there are plenty of tickets that organizers have to set aside for other constituencies, including NBC and other networks that hold broadcast rights, sponsors, sports federations and national Olympic committees.

Nothing will be decided until next year, after organizers figure out how many seats are available in each venue when modifications are made for the Games.

The International Olympic Committee expects to see a detailed ticket program, including prices, by December 1999. It's up to the IOC to decide if the plan is fair.

Tanner told the board he estimates that more than 1.2 million tickets will be available. Tickets are the last major source of revenue for Olympic organizers.

The current $1 billion-plus budget projects that $124 million will be raised from selling tickets. Only the sale of broadcast rights and corporate sponsorships brings in more money.

Tickets will likely be a topic at SLOC's meeting for community leaders, scheduled for Aug. 31 at Little America. The daylong session will be open to the public, SLOC spokeswoman Shelley Thomas said.

Both Gov. Mike Leavitt and the Utah League of Cities and Towns are participating in the meeting, which is intended to help increase community participation in the Games.

In recent months, organizers have been criticized for being too secretive about their plans for 2002. Employees have been told not to talk about their work.

Trustees were accused of leaking confidential information to the media, and there was an attempt to amend the board bylaws so a trustee could be ousted for such an action in the future.

However, that proposal was tabled Thursday in what was described by one trustee as an attempt to make the issue go away. Publicly, trustees said the amendment wasn't necessary since trustees already can be removed for cause.

Still, some trustees are raising concerns about their access to information. Thursday, Ken Bullock, the executive director of the Utah League of Cities and Towns, said he wasn't allowed to take a copy of the budget from the SLOC offices.

"It is an extreme sense of paranoia that seems to be building," Bullock said. Other trustees, though, said it was impractical to examine financial information anywhere other than SLOC.

A policy on access to budget information is expected to be recommended before October. That's when trustees are supposed to see the results of a budget overhaul.



Tickets for 2002 Games

- Tickets available: 1,215,000*

- 1999-2000: Hire ticketing director

- April 1999: Determine number of seats available at each venue

- December 1999: Seek International Olympic Committee approval for ticket programs, prices and policies

- January-February 2000: Announce Utah ticket program

- September-October 2000: Begin U.S. ticket sales

- October 2000-February 2001: Sell tickets via mail order

- March 2001-December 2001: Sell tickets via telephone and Internet

- December 2001-January 2002: Distribute tickets

*Estimated number. It includes 80,000 for opening and closing ceremonies and 260,000 for ice skating and other high-demand events.