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Mitt praises speedskating oval to County Council

One of three of its kind in the United States and five in the world, big enough to fit four football stadiums inside and the fastest thing around.

Welcome to the speedskating oval in Kearns and its attendant attributes that SLOC president Mitt Romney lavishly praised for the benefit of the Salt Lake County Council on Tuesday.

The facility, located in Kearns and the site of the speedskating venue for the 2002 Winter Games, is one of Salt Lake County's crown jewels, and Romney wanted to make sure the council members knew it.

Romney, head of the Salt Lake Organizing Committee, briefed members during a 30-minute presentation that outlined the progress being made in preparation for the Games and what specific plans are on the table for entertainment, community celebrations and opening night ceremonies.

He said two things are among the key factors in making sure the event is an unquestionable success: pleasing the press and having a welcome mat out to the world that says this is not the Mormon Olympics. "It is essential for all of us and the Olympic committee to not be partial to any member of the community."

The event will attract 2,500 athletes, 12,000 members of the media and be viewed by 3 billion people.

"They'll be watching for 17 days."

Although Romney dove into the financial mechanics of funding the games and outlined the overwhelming dollar commitment required to pull them off, Tuesday's presentation was merely a get-acquainted session for Romney and the county council.

He fielded questions ranging from Utah's controversial liquor laws to the possible dilemma of a drought and having no snow for the world's biggest outdoor winter party.

Romney said the committee will not seek to alter existing liquor laws and as for snow, well, the man-made stuff is better anyway.

During nightly ceremonies, each community will have a turn to be showcased and contribute its own flavor to the festivities.

Romney said the committee is working with the communities to ensure they each have a spot in the limelight.


E-mail: amyjoi@desnews.com