When members of the International Olympic Committee's Evaluation team arrive in Salt Lake City later this month, they'll be whisked from the airport to their downtown hotel in limousines led by police escorts.
That's only the beginning of the red-carpet treatment the Olympic officials and several of their spouses will receive during their brief stay, scheduled to begin the night of Jan. 13 and end the morning of Jan. 16.An itinerary released Monday by the Salt Lake City Bid Committee for the Olympic Winter Games includes a breakfast with Gov. Norm Bangerter, helicopter rides from Rice Stadium to Park City, and front-row seats at a Jazz game.
Utah Olympic supporters say their efforts to impress the members of the team that will tell the IOC whether the state is prepared to host the 1998 Winter Games aren't lavish.
"Compared to what they're used to, we're casual," said Dave Johnson, director of international relations for the bid committee.
So far, only two of the five cities competing with Salt Lake City for the 1998 Winter Games have been visited by the evaluation team, Sochi in the USSR and Ostersund, Sweden.
The team is scheduled to head for the frontrunner, Nagano, Japan, after visiting Salt Lake City. Visits to Aosta, Italy; and Jaca, Spain, are planned for February.
Although the team is not supposed to rank the cities, their findings are expected to help the 94 members of the IOC make up their minds when they meet in England next June to select the site of the 1998 Winter Games.
Last year, the team rated Atlanta's facilities superior to those of the sentimental favorite, Athens, Greece, and the IOC chose Atlanta for the 1996 Summer Games. Utah Olympic backers are counting on the team's report to do the same for Salt Lake City.
"It really creates an impression among the IOC," Johnson said of the report sent to all 94 IOC members. "These people are looking for the best city. You have to admit they picked the best city when they picked Atlanta."
Supporters of Salt Lake's bid were stung by the selection of Atlanta. They feared the IOC would be reluctant to pick another U.S. city to host the next Olympics.
Now their strategy is to stress what they say are Salt Lake's superior facilities, including roads and other infrastructure in addition to the planned venue sites.
Even though Johnson said the evaluation team's visit is the most important of any Olympic officials, the bid committee is spending less on all of them than it does to host a single IOC member.
The bid committee, which is funded through private donations, will spend a total of between $20,000 and $30,000 to entertain and educate the team members according to Johnson.
That's nearly as much as it costs the bid committee to bring IOC members and their spouses to Salt Lake City. Airfare for two to the United States accounts for much of the expense.
Cities vying for the Olympics do get some financial help from the IOC when it comes to the cost of an evaluation team visit. The IOC now pays for the team members' airfare to the would-be site of a Winter Games.
Before the IOC pitched in, some communities spent as much as $100,000 to host the evaluation team, Johnson said. He said Salt Lake's cost will be "relatively inexpensive."
The biggest expense for the bid committee will be securing helicopters to land inside Rice Stadium on the University of Utah campus to pick up the team members.
The helicopters are set to take the team members on a tour of the Salt Lake area, including the new Jazz arena still under construction and the Salt Palace.
Then, team members are scheduled to fly through Parley's Canyon to Bear Hollow, the site of a proposed winter sports park that will house a ski jump and bobsled and luge run.