Utah officials paced like expectant fathers awaiting a billion-dollar baby as the United States Olympic Committee's Site Selection Committee arrived Friday night at Salt Lake International Airport.
The seven-member delegation arrived to a welcome dance by Piute and Navajo Indians in traditional dress and were presented brightly colored, beaded necklaces. Several children then presented the delegation with lilies."We want the Olympics. We think it will be a good thing for the state of Utah, for image development and economic development," said Gov. Norm Bangerter, who, along with Lt. Gov. Val Oveson and Rep. Wayne Owens, D-Utah, greeted the delegation's plane about 7:15 p.m.
The committee will spend the weekend evaluating northern Utah as a potential host site for the 1998 Olympics.
The delegation "just came from Anchorage where it has rained for three days," said Tom Welch, Organizing Committee chairman.
Salt Lake City is competing against Anchorage, Denver, Klamath Falls, Ore., and Reno-Lake Tahoe to be host for the Games.
The committee, after visiting all of the would-be Olympic sites, will recommend "America's Choice." The USOC then will vote June 4 on what U.S. city will bid on hosting the Games before the International Olympic Committee.
Committee members will be visiting areas within 40 miles of Salt Lake City, including downhill skiing at Snow Basin near Ogden, slalom skiing in Park City and ski-jumping in Summit County.
Welch said the proposal being put before the Olympic Committee is that Utah is offering to develop an entire winter-sports program, "not just the Olympic Games."
The state's commitment to winter sports "separates us from every other community that's bidding," Welch said.
"This is five years in the making," Welch said of Utah's bid to host the Games, which would pump "about a billion dollars into our economy."
But it is the potential exposure that has Utah officials drooling over the bid.
"You're really talking about a national attraction of winter sports programs in Utah," Welch said.
Bangerter will join the committee at a brunch Sunday morning in Symphony Hall.