Some local business executives have added their voices to the chorus of Utahns who are wondering if they will get tickets to the 2002 Winter Games.
Robert J. Grow, Geneva Steel president and a member of the state Board of Business and Economic Development, said during a board retreat at Thanksgiving Point Friday that many local businesses helped bring the Olympics to Salt Lake City.If those businesses had access to tickets, Grow said, they could strengthen their operations by inviting important suppliers and clients to come see the Games.
"I think people are going to wake up, and if they aren't given opportunities to get involved, will feel snookered or cheated," Grow said.
Grow said he wholeheartedly supports the Olympics and thinks they will be a once-in-a-lifetime showcase for Utah and its businesses. He just hopes local companies will have access to a "reasonable" number of tickets.
"Every major business in Utah could benefit by having some tickets," Grow said.
Tim Anderson, a board member and St. George attorney, said he hopes the Olympics will not be accessible only to "rich folks." Since Utahns are suffering through years of transportation problems in preparation for hosting the Games, he said, the average resident will want to see some long-term economic benefits from them.
Frank Zang, Salt Lake Organizing Committee communications director, said SLOC will not have a comprehensive ticket program ready until at least 2000, but he is glad to hear of the businessmen's interest.
"The organizing committee is committed to making tickets available for Utahns," Zang said Friday. "At this point in time, we're collecting information from previous Games and working on developing policies and distribution procedures and prices for these tickets."
At the recently completed Winter Games in Nagano, Japan, nearly 1.3 million tickets were available for events. They ranged in price from $25 for events such as snowboard, bobsled and luge to $400 for the Opening Ceremony.
Plans are not yet worked up in any detail, Zang said, so it is impossible to say how many tickets will be available for the 2002 Games or whether Utah businesses will receive any preference during distribution.
Typically, many event tickets go to athletes and their families, Olympic officials, members of the media and major national and international sponsors.
David Winder, executive director of the state Department of Community and Economic Development, said he thinks a waiting list for tickets will be established about 18 months to two years before the Games. But he said he will ask SLOC Chief Executive Officer Frank Joklik whether local businesses could get a better shot at nabbing some of those tickets.
Rick Mayfield, director of the Utah Division of Business and Economic Development, said the state's businesses will benefit from the Games, even if they do not have event tickets.
Local business owners can bring in clients before the Olympics and show off the venues and the state's other attractions, Mayfield said. He said the division will use the Olympics as a tool to recruit new businesses, and all Utahns should have a chance to at least take part in some of the cultural activities that surround the Games.
"I'm sold on the Olympics now," he said. "I'm thinking this is probably the greatest opportunity we've ever had to showcase Utah."
SLOC is keeping in mind that the 2002 Olympics will be America's Games, not just Utah's, Mayfield said. And the state's residents should not expect that they all will have event tickets.
But he remains confident that the events will help the state's economy.
"We have to leverage the Olympics for economic benefits," he said.