To use a sports analogy, you could say the Salt Lake Organizing Committee is bolstering its lineup for the playoff run.

SLOC President Mitt Romney announced Wednesday that SLOC and the U.S. Olympic Committee have entered into a partnership with the world's premier sports marketing company -- International Management Group -- to sell 2002 Winter Games sponsorships and marketing deals."We have a long ways to go and not a lot of time," Romney said. "This gives us more salesmen to get the job done."

"It is fitting that the No. 1 sports event in the world will be represented by the top sports marketing company," said USOC Deputy Secretary General John Krimsky, who oversees USOC marketing.

IMG brings to the deal a staff of about 2,000 people in 78 offices in 38 countries. According to terms of the deal, the company will sell 2002 Winter Games sponsorships entirely on commission (Utah corporate sponsors will be exempt from the commission).

So far, marketing efforts by SLOC and OPUS (Olympic Properties of the United States), a joint marketing effort between SLOC and the USOC, have raised about $550 million -- well short of the $859 million projected in the original budget. Marketing revenue is a key component of the overall Games financing.

If IMG sales boost revenues to $859 million, SLOC will pay an undisclosed commission. If the sales fall short, the USOC pays the commissions.

"We are delighted to be working with the USOC and SLOC," said Mark H. McCormack, chairman and CEO of IMG. "The Olympic Games have always been in a class of their own, and we look forward to getting involved with OPUS and continuing our Olympic tradition."

IMG has a long history with the Olympics. The company has represented the International Olympic Committee in negotiating television rights to past Games, and it handled sponsorship sales and hospitality programs for Olympics in Albertville, France; Barcelona, Spain; and Lillehammer, Norway.

Efforts to sell 2002 Games sponsorships will be directed by IMG senior vice president Robert Prazmark from the company's New York offices. Prazmark has sold and negotiated more than $1 billion on Olympic deals in the past.

Perhaps the best part, Romney said, is there is no financial risk to SLOC. If IMG falls short of the $859 million, the USOC pays. If IMG raises more than $859 million, the Games are back on budget -- if enough is raised to cover the company's commission -- and SLOC gladly writes out a check.

Romney said the real hero of the deal is the USOC, which stands to lose revenue if the sponsorships don't come through. Marketing revenues are generally split with 70 percent going to SLOC and 30 percent going to the USOC.

Romney called the deal "an enormous step forward" and "a real confidence builder."

The deal not only sends many times more people into the field to sell the 2002 Winter Games, but the company brings an established relationship with corporations around the world. "They have a pretty high degree of success in closing deals," Romney said.