Salt Lake Olympics organizers say if the nation wants more gold medals per dollar, the chief goal of restructuring the U.S. Olympic Committee under a plan by George Steinbrenner, then bring the 1998 Winter Games to Utah.
In Steinbrenner's 21-page Olympic Overview Commission report delivered to the USOC Sunday, the New York Yankees owner said changes in the USOC are needed if the committee is to secure its greatest commodity: gold medals.Steinbrenner was named in 1988 to head the Olympic Overview Commission to review the USOC, coordinating body for U.S. amateur sports. "Winning medals must always be the primary goal," the report says.
At a weekend USOC meeting where Salt Lake organizers promoted the city's 1998 Winter Olympics bid, Steinbrenner called for a restructuring of USOC administrative bodies and their functions.
Additionally, the report called for funneling more money out of the board rooms of the USOC's committees and onto the playing fields and ski slopes where underfunded athletes need more fiscal support.
But the report also called for a greater commitment to Olympics facilities development and to offering athletes greater educational opportunities. Salt Lake organizers say the USOC can get that in Utah.
Steinbrenner said if the nation wants more gold in return for investing in its greatest athletes, the USOC must develop a master plan giving athletes access "to the best possible training sites which can be provided."
"This is particularly important to our venue-starved winter sports," the report said.
"Viewed in that context, the report puts Salt Lake City's bid in the most favorable light," said Tom Welch, chairman of the Salt Lake Winter Games Organizing Committee.
Welch said a newly created state Olympics funding mechanism furnishing $4 million annually for Olympic facilities makes the city's Olympics bid one tailored to turn the city into the West's "winter sports capital."
Under a USOC requirement, the U.S. bid city must begin building a bobsled-luge run within 18 months of being selected the USOC bidder but before the actual Games are awarded in 1991 by the International Olympics Committee.
The funding mechanism would permit Utah, contingent upon a vote of the people this fall, to commit public money to build that facility, a speed- skating rink and ski jump required by the USOC.
Steinbrenner's report calls for a more "athlete-oriented" Olympic training centers that provide not only facilities but also opportunities for education and jobs for athletes.
"That's what our program is set up to do," Welch said. The University of Utah could offer athletes schooling, sports-medicine facilities and the metropolitan area could provide jobs and housing.
The report establishes a new standard for judging U.S. cities bidding to be hosts for Olympic competition, said committee member Mike Zuhl, chief of staff for Salt Lake Mayor Palmer DePaulis.
"The decision on the (1998) Winter Olympics will probably be one of the first tests of this new standard, and I think Salt Lake City is going to measure up quite well to that standard," he said.
Denver, Reno-Lake Tahoe, Nev.; Lake Placid, N.Y.; and Klamath Falls, Ore., are the other U.S. cities bidding for the 1998 Winter Olympics.
Conclusions from report by Steinbrenner
- "Winning medals must always be the primary goal."
- The nation's Olympic movement must be more "athlete-oriented," particularly regarding development of more winter sports training facilities.
- U.S. athletes must be given financial, education and job support by offering scholarships, access to schooling and direct financial support to athletes.
- The top-heavy U.S. Olympic Committee must trim its administrative level and distribute more money to athletes.
- The financially strapped USOC should embark on a intensified fund-raising effort and more economically spend the revenue it raises.
- The USOC should develop more savvy in working with network television, which pays millions of dollars to televise events.
- The USOC should reduce its committees from 30 to 12 to save costs and improve efficiencies.