If Salt Lake City can get the bid to host the 1998 Winter Olympics, it could mean a $1 billion economic boost to the area economy, according to Brad Barber, director of data resources in the Utah Planning and Budget Office.
In addition to the economic boost during the Games, Barber told the Wasatch Front Economic Forum on Tuesday that the facilities could be used for training future Olympic athletes and hosting winter sports competitions. "Perhaps even more important is the stressing of athletic competition and physical fitness among young people," he said.Even though many people don't want taxpayer money used to finance the Winter Olympics, Barber said it must play a role. But television revenue, corporate sponsorships, tickets sales and other outside revenue will keep the taxpayer money to a minimum.
He said it will cost between $300 million and $400 million to host the Games, but organizers expect a $100 million surplus, mainly because of the television revenue. Some of the surplus will go to the U.S. Olympic Committee for furtherance of amateur sports, and some will go to maintain the sports facilities that must be built to host the Games.
Barber said the 1989 Legislature passed a bill allowing for an interlocal authority to issue bonds to construct some of the facilities, a recent requirement by the USOC before contending cities can bid, and divert $4 million in sales tax to help build facilities.
Asked what happens to the $4 million if Salt Lake City doesn't receive the Winter Olympics bid, Barber said $4 million won't bankrupt the state.
Barber said Anchorage, Alaska, received the U.S. Olympic bid several years ago, but when the city did little to provide facilities, the USOC decided to open the competition again.
He outlined where Olympic events could be held, but said ski resorts in Big and Little Cottonwood canyons won't be used because of environmental and transportation problems in the narrow canyons.