Officials considering Salt Palace expansion should also look to the construction of a world-class track to create a sports mecca in Salt Lake City, says Salt Lake City Councilwoman Sydney Fonnesbeck.

Fonnesbeck said a high-quality track built at West High School would be a natural enhancement to the Salt Palace sports facilities just four blocks to the south."If we're going to do this, we're going to have to do something more than just build an arena," Fonnesbeck said. "I think it would be a wonderful economic development tool."

School district officials have set aside $600,000 for a long, skinny track that could only be used for high school dual meets. For just $130,000 more, a shorter, fatter track with better drainage could be built that would be the foundation of a world-class facility. The development could occur in phases, with enhanced lighting and seating facilities added when money is available, Fonnesbeck said.

The city has helped by donating part of the land for the track, and Fonnesbeck suggested private donations be used to come up with the rest of the needed money. "If we bypass this window of opportunity, then it is lost to us forever."

A superior track could be used by the University of Utah's track team and for state high school championship meets, which now must be run at Utah State University or Brigham Young University. Then in the summer, when schools are out of session, the city could host national meets such as Olympic trials or other premier events.

The track would be another addition to a groundswell of support for amateur athletics now occurring throughout the state, building on the momentum of Cedar City's Summer Games and Park City's Winter Games, she said.

The track would also underline the efforts of city officials, who have agreed to build a world-class, cross-country ski facility as they expand the Mountain Dell Golf Course.