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Anheuser Busch, S.L. strike deal

Brewing company renting Gallivan plaza for Games festivities

After months of shopping for an Olympic tenant for the Gallivan Center, Salt Lake City has struck a deal with Anheuser Busch, one of the 2002 Winter Games' major sponsors.

The brewing company, which has already invested $50 million in its sponsorship of the Salt Lake Games, will add to that the cost of a monthlong rental of the 3 1/2-acre downtown plaza.

The Budweiser Clydesdales — complete with temporary stables — a tented beer garden, musical entertainment, video broadcasts of medals ceremonies and other Olympic events are expected to be among the February 2002 activities at the Gallivan Center, according to city Olympic planner John Sittner.

"It will be very family-oriented," Sittner said. "We're simply not going to permit it to be a 21-plus focus. The center needs to be a community gathering place. We have confidence that Anheuser Busch can provide a great festival atmosphere."

The prospect of Anheuser taking over the plaza on Salt Lake City's Main Street appalls Dr. George Van Komen, an anti-alcohol crusader and director of the Alcohol Policy Coalition.

"We've been warning the community since 1996 that this is what Anheuser Busch is going to do," he said. "It's pathetic to say they're going to have activities for children and right next to those have adults drinking and getting drunk."

While the Olympic medals plaza on LDS church property a few blocks west will feature nightly concerts by big-name acts and no alcohol, Gallivan entertainment will have a local focus, Sittner said. Utah entertainers will complement the offerings at the medals plaza, he said, with activities going on at Gallivan from 10 a.m. till 1 a.m. throughout the 17 days of the Olympics.

While the "base rent" Anheuser will pay is $155,000, that amount "is clearly not the whole package," Sittner said, emphasizing that the total lease price will be substantially higher. "Their investment in the festival environment, I expect, will exceed $500,000 to $600,000, and a significant piece of that is what they're paying the city."

Anheuser's Bud World exhibition, billed by the company as "the ultimate Budweiser experience," is also expected to be part of the Gallivan Olympic festival. The enormous display went to Atlanta for the 2000 Super Bowl, in two 53-foot tractor trailers and a 37-foot trailer, and was described as a place where "adults can learn about beer in a fun, interactive way."

Van Komen said Anheuser's sponsorship of the 2002 Olympics will top the agenda when the national organization Time to End All Marketing in Sports meets next month in Washington, D.C.,

The Olympics, Van Komen said, "are a glaring example of how the alcohol industry uses a cozy, warm environment to promote their product. Alcohol remains the No. 1 drug abused by children. You can talk about heroin, about ecstasy, but alcohol is still No. 1, the one causing all the damage."

Meanwhile Sittner and the city are continuing negotiations over rental costs and entertainment programming for the Gallivan Center. The company's permit "still has some contingencies that need to be worked out," Sittner said.

"Now we know where to set up our picket line," responded Van Komen.


E-MAIL: durbani@desnews.com