Salt Lake City will hold the first meeting of the Salt Lake Winter Games Organizing Committee Friday to begin molding the city's effort to become the U.S. bidder for the 1998 Winter Olympics.

Mayor Palmer DePaulis said the meeting would be organizational and informational and designed to help set the tone for the bidding process and send a message about the games to Utahns."I think the signal we'd like to give the public is we think our chances are much better than they have been in the past, but we realize we just don't know," he said.

Salt Lake City competed in 1985 to be America's bidder for the games, and DePaulis said the city can learn from that experience. Even so, officials will follow a "cautious and deliberate" path.

He said the city shouldn't miss an opportunity to host the games, but should also avoid overstating what we can do.

Friday's meeting will focus on setting the tone for the bidding process, which will end in June when the U.S. Olympic Committee chooses one of five cities to compete internationally to host the games, DePaulis said.

The International Olympic Committee will vote in 1991 to actually award the games to a host city.

DePaulis emphasized that the committee will operate as the sole representative for the city in the bidding process.

The mayor has said repeatedly that the city will pursue the bid independently following the release of an audit questioning expenditures of city funds by Better Utah Inc., a private sports promotion agency pursuing the Olympic bid. The corporation has since been exonerated of any deliberate wrongdoing.

Assignments to various subcommittees will also be made at the meeting, the mayor said. Subcommittees will likely include a body to study various winter Olympic venues in the area and a finance subcommittee to help raise $150,000 to $200,000 in private funds for the bidding process, DePaulis said.

Committee members will also be brought up to speed on Olympic-related issues, such as the USOC requiring cities have a mechanism in place to finance a luge/bobsled run, the mayor said.

The USOC made the requirement to garner commitment from cities to build winter training facilities. The run, together with required financing for a speedskating rink, could cost up to $25 million.

The meeting will be held at the Salt Lake County Complex, 2001 S. State St., in room N2003 at 7:30 a.m. Friday.