A member of the committee supposed to be the closest to Olympic boosters has resigned, saying he has been "blind-sided and surprised" by the doubling of the proposed budget for hosting the 1998 Winter Games.
Patrick Shea, a media lawyer active in the Democratic Party, said Saturday that although he has left the executive committee of the Salt Lake Winter Olympics Bid Committee he will remain on the group's board of trustees.The committee submitted a $749 million bid for the 1998 Winter Games to the International Olympic Committee last month, up from the $401 million budget outlined to Utah voters before last year's Olympic referendum.
As one of a dozen or so executive committee members, Shea thought he was going to be in on all decisions made by Tom Welch, bid committee chairman, and other leaders of the Olympic effort.
Instead, Shea said, he learned of the nearly $350 million increase in the budget presented to the International Olympic Committee earlier this month by reading the newspaper.
He said the last straw was receiving an audit of the bid committee's finances last Tuesday, just an hour or so before the numbers were going to be presented to the Utah Sports Authority.
"I'm not going to be blind-sided and surprised by something that's going to be with us for a while," Shea said. "One of the reasons I want to stay on as a trustee is that I don't want to see money spent before we have it in hand."
The 50 or so members of the bid committee's board of trustees, including many prominent Utahns, meet quarterly. Shea suggested they could meet sooner to consider some changes in the organization of the bid committee.
One of the proposals that may be discussed would leave Welch in charge of only dealings with the IOC and name a chief operating officer to take over all other duties, including budgeting.
Shea's resignation is the latest indication there is dissatisfaction with the way the city's Olympic effort is being run. Members of the Utah Sports Authority have also complained they are being left out of decisions.
The sports authority, created by the Legislature to oversee the spending of the $56 million in tax dollars being used to build Olympic facilities, recently charged a subcommittee with keeping an eye on the bid committee.
Shea's concern over the doubling of the budget stems from discussions he has had with network officials over how much money can be expected from selling the broadcasting rights to the Olympics.
Much of the increase in the budget set by the bid committee is due to an anticipated boost in revenues from the sale of broadcasting rights and corporate sponsorships.
Despite his doubts, Shea said he is still convinced Salt Lake City will be selected as the site of the 1998 Winter Games when the IOC meets next spring. "We'll get the bid despite ourselves," he said.