You might call these growing pains of Olympic proportions.
A Salt Lake Olympic Organizing Committee, which would actually put on the Winter Games, is likely to be formed before Utah asks the International Olympic Committee next June for the right to host the last Olympics of the century, officials say.And part of that organizing committee will be a strong board of directors to oversee licensing, marketing and a variety of Games procedures. The organizing committee's board will give support and direction to Tom Welch, the current chairman of the bid committee, state officials say.
Gov. Norm Bangerter and Salt Lake Mayor Palmer DePaulis were to meet late Friday afternoon to discuss the Olympics, including the organizing committee.
The meeting comes on the heels of the resignation of bid committee board member Pat Shea, who said Welch didn't involve board members enough in major decisions. However, officials say there was talk of rebuilding the Olympics governing structure even before Shea's resignation.
"We support Tom (Welch) completely," said Bud Scruggs, Bangerter's chief of staff. "He has dedicated his life to getting the Games. We probably wouldn't be where we are today without him. We think he should have any job he wants on the organizing committee - president, chairman of the board, whatever. But only one job. Some think he is trying to do too much. He is the only locomotive pulling the Olympic Game train. But others would like to pull also, and he could probably use the help."
Scruggs is being tactful.
Shea, former Democratic Party chairman, quit the bid committee's executive committee last month after he found out from reading a Deseret News article that the bid committee had almost doubled its anticipated budget. Shea, a media lawyer, doubts TV revenues will be as high as Welch anticipates. He felt Welch was stage managing the whole Olympics show.
Welch was out of town Friday and couldn't be reached for comment. However, Scruggs said Welch supports forming an organizing committee before Salt Lake City goes to the IOC in Birmingham, England, next June and asks for the 1998 Winter Games.The bid committee would still make the formal presentation to the IOC to host the 1998 Games. But immediately after winning the bid, the new organizing committee would take over. Some believe Salt Lake City has a better chance at getting the Games if such an organizing committee were in place, with qualified and well-known people already appointed.
"This (restructuring) is not aimed at any one person. It truly is a process," said Scruggs. The problem is institutional, not personal, added Scruggs. For example, the Legislature, in allocating $56 million in sales tax money to build Olympic-style venues - which were demanded by the U.S. Olympic Committee as part of selecting Salt Lake City as the U.S. bid city - created the Utah Sports Authority, giving it power over those facilities.
The clear understanding is that TV revenues from the Games and other receipts will help repay that tax money. In putting together the bid, Welch must anticipate those revenues, talk to prospective corporate sponsors and generally plan Games activities. Thus, there is much overlap among the bid committee, Sports Authority and other associated groups.
Hopefully, a single organizing committee, with a strong board of directors, would provide a cleaner line of authority.
Said one official involved with the bid, "Some guys have donated $50,000 to the Utah Olympic cause. They got to shake hands with Prince Albert, but they expected to be involved in the process much more, be informed and consulted. That hasn't been happening (under Welch)."
UTAH SPORTS AUTHORITY
Organized: March 9, 1990
Chairman: Ian Cumming
Membership: 15 board members
Function: Created by the Legislature, Board appointed by Gov. Norm Bangerter. has an oversight committee made of legislators and others.
Activities: Approves spending and design of winter sports facilities as well as sporting events that are state-funded. Also oversees Olympic Bid Committee budget policies.
SALT LAKE OLYMPIC BID COMITTEE
Organized: Nov. 14, 1988
Chairman: Tom Welch
Membership: Has a board of 54 people.
Function: A private group responsible for promoting Utah's bid for the 1998 Winter Olympics to the International Olympic Committee.
Activities: Participates in fund-raising efforts and lobbying efforts to expose IOC members to Salt Lake City's bid. Also prepares initial Olympic budgets and bidding documents.
SALT LAKE OLYMPIC ORGANIZING COMMITTEE
Organized: To be announced, probably sometime in June.
Chairman: To be announced
Membership: to be announced although state officials say Tom Welch will play a key role.
Funcition: Likely a quasi-public body that may include representation from the Utah Sports Authority. Will replace Salt Lake Olympic Bid Committee.
Activities: Will organize schedules, finances and facilities for Winter Olympics if Salt Lake City is chosen to host Games.