Building two new Salt Lake golf courses is like putting money in the bank in the city's continuing economic development effort, says Councilman Willie Stoler.

The City Council expressed strong support Thursday for expanding the existing Mountain Dell course and building a new course at the Salt Lake International Airport.The only question is whether the Mountain Dell site would be a golf course with a cross country ski trail, or a cross country ski facility where a golf course also happened to be located.

Construction costs of about $8 million will be paid by a bond issue, to be repaid over a 10-year period through increases in golf fees, said John Gust, city parks director. In addition, the Airport Authority will contribute the land and $850,000 for the airport course. Groundbreaking could begin this fall.

Stoler said golfers will support fee increases only if the city's existing six courses are maintained and improved while new construction is under way.

Costs will be negligible to build an Olympic-caliber cross country ski track at the same time Mountain Dell is expanded, Gust said. And the extensive underground sprinkling system a golf course requires could possibly support snow-making machines.

Jack Turner, head of the Utah Winter Games and ski director at Jeremy Ranch, said Mountain Dell could be the site of a future opening race of the World Cup cross-country ski season.