Utah Sports Authority members say Olympic supporters are making it difficult for the public to find out about Salt Lake City's efforts to win the 1998 Winter Games.
At their monthly meeting Tuesday, Sports Authority members questioned the availability of the bid information submitted nearly two weeks ago to the International Olympic Committee.Last month, Sports Authority members and others raised concerns about the near-doubling of the amount of money Salt Lake City planned to spend to host the 1998 Winter Games, from $401 million to $749 million.
The new budget is contained in two-volume bid books given to the IOC. The books - printed on pine-scented paper filled with full-color photographs - have been encased in oak and tucked into leather saddle bags.
Sports Authority members, who are charged with overseeing the $56 million in taxes set aside for building winter sports facilities for the Olympics, didn't see the bid until Tuesday.
Each member of the Sports Authority received a plain red cardboard binder containing photocopies of the big book pages that had been reduced in size in order to fit.
When they were told by Salt Lake Olympic Bid Committee Vice President Craig Peterson there were no copies available yet for sale as a fund-raiser or even for the public to see, several members expressed concerns.
"To keep the bid book as secret and mysterious as it has been kept is not a good idea," Ian Cumming, Sports Authority chairman, said. He asked Peterson to "take one out of the vault" before the next meeting.
"This is a statewide effort. We ought to be celebrating, throwing them around," Cumming said. "May I remind you it is `We the people' who are building the facilities."
Allan Lipman, a Sports Authority member from Ogden, said support for the Winter Games may be suffering because of problems in getting information out about the contents of the bid books.
"The more we make these harder to get, the more we create apprehension among the people," Lipman said, adding that those feelings affect the level of public support. "I see it waning," he said.
Peterson said copies of the book were being distributed to IOC members as quickly as they could be printed. Only a handful of the 95 IOC members have been given copies so far.
Also during Tuesday's meeting, Cumming announced the creation of five new subcommittees and appointed Lipman the chairman of one dealing with public affairs.
Cumming told Lipman to ask the bid committee for permission to sit in on future discussions about the bid. The bid committee is funded by private donations and isn't required to hold open public meetings.
"We're getting some of the heat from the fact that all of a sudden our prices went up," Cumming said, a reference to the increase in the proposed budget for hosting the 1998 Winter Games.
The IOC will select the site of that event next June. Other cities competing with Salt Lake City are Ostersund, Sweden; Jaca, Spain; Nagano, Japan; Sochi, USSR; and Aosta, Italy.