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Athletic group seeks Utah money

Foundation wants to lure foreign tourists, sponsor sports events

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The Utah Athletic Foundation wants state help for a project that would result in broadcasting "cultural vignettes" about Utah to lure foreign tourists.

The foundation also wants help in funding top-notch sports events.

Rondo Fehlberg, vice president of sports and development for the foundation, suggested to the Utah Board of Business and Economic Development on Thursday that the state could help produce the Utah vignettes — ranging from 30 seconds to five minutes — that could be imbedded into international broadcasts of World Cup and world championship events.

Those broadcasts have an audience of 10 million to 60 million in Europe and the Pacific Rim, he said.

"I don't know what we're spending to advertise internationally, but I do know we ought to be spending more than 50 to 100 thousand bucks a year to get all these people in here to view our amazing southern Utah parks and everything else," Fehlberg said.

"So what we're suggesting is that the state would work with us and we would work with the Travel Commission and we get 50 to 100 thousand bucks a year by the state, we can deliver you so much bang for your buck in the perfect international stage. And what it does is it not only combines the message we have about Utah, but it brings back everybody's memory of that remarkable 2002 Olympics."

Advertising experts, he said, have valued the time at $30,000 for 30 seconds before a group of 20 million European viewers. That climbs to $200,000 for two minutes, he said.

The foundation also would like to host more World Cup and world championship events, but those activities usually lose $50,000 to $100,000 each, he said. That leaves the foundation able to host speedskating and luge this year but no bobsled, no freestyle skiing, no ski jumping and no skeleton.

"We can't do it because we can't afford it. We don't have it in the budget. So we're hoping that if we can get $150,000 a year, we can do one in every sport every year, and we can get the state of Utah all over Europe and all over the Pacific Rim every single year in the most friendly and complimentary setting imaginable," he said.

"If we had the money, if the money fell from heaven, we could go out and aggressively go after them (the events). And we know everybody wants this. The athletes and the world governing bodies loved this Utah experience so much in 2002, they'd come back to us in a heartbeat. They want to come here. There is no place like this."

Board members questioned the return on investment in helping host events.

"That's part of the problem," Fehlberg said. "The economic impact is not great, because you're not bringing a lot of spectators with you. You're going to find that we're gong to battle like crazy just to get 500 people up there to watch the world luge championships."

The foundation gets no state funds currently — something Fehlberg wants to change. "You are our greatest ally," he told the board, "though I don't think you really realize how much we need you, because you can help us a lot in getting this money and making things work."

E-mail: bwallace@desnews.com