Salt Lake Mayor Palmer DePaulis thinks Utah's image will be polished by hosting the 1998 Winter Olympics, but an Olympics skeptic thinks only the state's stereotypically tarnished side will be exposed by the Games.
Speaking at a quasi-debate before the Salt Lake County Bar Association Wednesday, DePaulis and Gale Dick, dean of graduate schools at the University of Utah, spoke out on the city hosting the Games.Salt Lake City is one of six cities bidding before the U.S. Olympics Committee to become the U.S. bidder for the Games. The International Olympics Committee will choose a host city in 1991.
DePaulis said the Olympics could be an "important tool" for reshaping Utah's image, dented by incidents such as the Mark Hofmann bombings and the Singer-Swapp standoff.
But Dick, who serves on the Salt Lake Winter Games Organizing Committee but calls himself an "Olympics skeptic," questioned what control the city would have over the image revealed by the Olympics.
With thousands of media representatives looking for a story during the Olympics, inevitably they would be forced by editors to "go look for stereotypes," Dick warned.
What's more, Dick questioned what the city's image would be following the Olympics. "Is being a winter sports capital the image we really want," he said, asking for "substance" in DePaulis' quest for improving Utah's image.
DePaulis admitted he was unsure what the substance of the state's image should be but said it was the duty of the state's leaders to help shape that final image, much like a spin doctor shapesthat of an aspiring politician.
DePaulis did, however, point to past successes in shaping the city's image, recalling the U.S. Conference of Mayors held in Salt Lake last year.
"I can tell you with certainty that the people who came here then were not the same people who left," he said.
Dick remained skeptical, saying, unlike cities with generic images, Salt Lake City and the rest of Utah carry a lot of baggage. "We don't have to create an image, we have to change an image," he said.