If political confrontation were an Olympic event, Gov. Norm Bangerter would likely qualify to referee after performing that duty during two closed-door meetings about Winter Games facilities on the same day.
"Everybody expects the governor to referee," Bangerter's chief of staff, Bud Scruggs said. "Like a referee, his responsibility is to make sure everything's fair."The governor's first meeting Monday on locating a speed-skating oval at the University of Utah was with U. of U. officials who are concerned they might end up picking up some of the cost of hosting the Winter Games.
The second meeting, held about an hour later, was with representatives of four community councils that support building the oval on the west side of Salt Lake City.
Neither meeting apparently affects the state's ongoing negotiations with the U. of U. and several federal agencies for land needed for the oval, which would be used for Olympic competition if Salt Lake City wins the 1998 Winter Games.
U. President Chase Peterson got a promise from the governor that he would help make sure that the campus doesn't lose in the land transaction, which involves part of a parking lot.
"The university is just getting a little nervous and saying, `Before we make any commitments we want to make sure we're held harmless,' " Scruggs said.
"The purpose of today's meeting with the university was to give them this office's assurances their interests will be protected, and they will not have to subsidize the Olympics," he said.
Community council leaders said they believed the governor heard their concerns, too. "He was very amenable," said Robin Carbaugh, chairwoman of the Yalecrest Community Council.
The Utah Sports Authority, which is responsible for spending $56 million in tax dollars on winter sports facilities that would be used for Olympic competition, hopes to have negotiations on the land completed before June 15, the day the International Olympic Committee will select the location of the 1998 Winter Games.