Every time "Salt Lake 2002" flashes on a video clip during a telecast about the 2006 Winter Games in Torino, every time an announcer mentions an athlete's performance during the Olympics four years ago, Alison McFarlane wants to cheer.
The director of economic development for Salt Lake City says it used to take a few minutes for people to recognize the city's name, and it was even tougher for them to place Utah on a map.
These days, though, it's different. And Salt Lake City has enough of a buzz that city leaders are seriously thinking about another Olympic bid proposal perhaps for the Games a dozen or so years away.
"I am astonished that everyone who has come through the booth area is already acquainted with Salt Lake City because of hosting the Olympics," McFarlane wrote in an e-mail from Torino, where she's staffing a tourism desk about her hometown. "The branding and name recognition that Salt Lake City has in a worldwide setting is vast."
The city literally has the front-and-center booth at the World Pavilion in Torino, she said, but figuratively, Salt Lake City is immediately recognizable to all visitors, whether that's through photographs or video of the community or the ubiquitous references to the Games four years ago.
McFarlane, Mayor Rocky Anderson and Lane Beattie, head of the Salt Lake Chamber of Commerce, spent time this month in Italy relentlessly pushing the city as the obvious choice for a future Winter Olympics and for business relocation.
"There is no one that can compare to what Salt Lake City can offer for hosting another Olympics," Beattie said. "To me, it ought to be rather a no-brainer."
Beattie who thinks Salt Lake City should bid for the 2118 or 2022 Games said that the possibility of repeating as host "was received very well" by representatives of the U.S. Olympic Committee. Beattie declined to name the representatives, and a USOC spokesman did not return a phone call seeking comment Friday.
The USOC would have to designate Salt Lake City as its first choice for a Winter Games before the International Olympic Committee would consider Utah again. But even before that point, Salt Lake City would have to make itself a candidate beyond just wishful thinking.
Part of that process would be seeking support from local and state leaders, said Jeff Robbins, president and CEO of the Utah Sports Commission, which has a futures committee informally looking at another Olympic bid.
Salt Lake City has a good argument for hosting another Winter Games with its already developed venues and transportation systems, Robbins said.
"If you already have a head start and all this infrastructure in place, perhaps that's not a bad starting point for us," Robbins said after a visit to Torino. "It becomes more and more clear that the 2002 Games were just tremendous in terms of how the state, the city and SLOC put them on."
Salt Lake's success has direct benefits for the city now, Anderson said at a sister city reception in Torino. Anderson credited the Games with luring Siebel Systems and Cadence Design Systems to the state and said the Games helped local businesses thrive and expand. Numerous Utah natives and residents competing in Italy are evidence that Utah schoolchildren have more training and competitive opportunities, he said.
Anderson also endorsed the idea of hosting the Olympics again.
"There are all of the big-city amenities. There's plenty for everybody to do, from fine dining to good, active late-night life well, not that late by European standards, but late enough for the Olympics," Anderson said after his trip to Torino.
E-mail: [email protected]