There is a risk that Olympic organizers won't be able to raise enough money to cover the $1.45 billion price tag for the 2002 Winter Games, the head of the Salt Lake Organizing Committee told legislative leaders.
"We have no contingency on the revenue side. Perhaps if there is one major area of risk, it's on the revenue side," SLOC Chief Executive Officer Frank Joklik said Tuesday during a meeting with top lawmakers.But Joklik said Utah companies have yet to be approached to contribute goods and services to the Games, one of the last untapped sources of financial help besides ticket sales.
And as long as the economy stays strong, Joklik said, there shouldn't be a budget crisis. "If there should be a severe economic downturn, that could change things substantially," he said.
The GOP officials from the House and Senate who sat through more than two hours of budget details from the organizing committee were generally supportive.
Just about a year ago, the legislative leadership called Olympic organizers into a closed-door meeting to make it clear they expected to be kept up to speed on plans for 2002.
"I think they're making a sincere effort to do that," House Speaker Mel Brown, R-Midvale, said after Tuesday's meeting. "It was interesting to find out the things they did and didn't include" in the budget.
Brown cited the $171 million in federal funding being sought by the organizing committee as an example of what's not included in the new $1.45 billion budget.
The $171 million, organizers say, is for transportation during the Olympics as well as the Paralympic Games for disabled athletes, weather forecasting and security.
"I'm not comfortable with it and I don't think they are either," the speaker said of the federal funds not being in the budget. "But how do you account for something they have no control over?"
Senate President Lane Beattie, R-Bountiful, said the Games are not the state's responsibility. What lawmakers need to worry about, he said, is getting back the $59 million taxpayers spent to build Olympic facilities.
"We are not running the Olympics," Beattie said. "Our job is getting the $59 million returned. . . . We also have an interest because we don't want to be embarrassed from a state standpoint."
That money, of course, is due to be repaid by the organizing committee along with another $40 million that will be used to run the facilities after the Games are over.
So far, those are the only Utah tax dollars referred to in the SLOC budget. Beattie said after hearing Tuesday's presentation he's confident more won't be needed - at least so far.
"I am right now. But again, that's all based on assumptions," he said of the budget. "There are just some things people have to realize we can't control."
Brown, too, was less than positive state funding won't be needed for the Olympics. "I don't know. You hear a lot of rumbles. But I think it would be difficult at this point to come to the state and ask for a lot of money."
He said local governments will likely be more affected than the state. There's already talk of the state stepping in to help pay for additional public services in those communities where Olympic events will be held.
The speaker recognized the organizing committee's effort to "eliminate public money in the process. But only time will tell whether they succeed without it."
Joklik told lawmakers the brunt of the expense of the Olympics will be borne by the organizing committee and the federal government. "The load on communities themselves is not going to be that great."
Olympic organizers have been making budget presentations for several weeks. The new budget was made public last week but is not scheduled to be voted on by the SLOC board of trustees until Oct. 8.
The new numbers, crunched with the help of a consultant that earned $750,000, must also be approved by Gov. Mike Leavitt and Salt Lake Mayor Deedee Corradini.
The most recent budget for the 2002 Winter Games was about $200 million less, including the value of goods and services donated by sponsors.