Printer Friendly

An Olympic postscript: did we really lose?


Did We Really Lose?

Members of the Salt Lake City delegation to Birmingham haven't admitted defeat and hope to keep the Olympic flame burning for 2002.

On an individual and corporate basis, many businesspeople in Utah and Salt Lake City invested a great deal of time and money in the Olympic Bid effort. Was it a risk worth taking, given the International Olympic Committee's (IOC's) choice of Nagano, Japan, as the 1998 host city? Many government and business leaders say yes. With a few weeks to reflect and evaluate the effort, they still think the advantages seem to far outweigh the disadvantages.

All Eyes Were upon Us

Utah has received more positive publicity and exposure over the last two years than ever before. Utah is well known as the land of Mormons and national parks, but the world knew little else about us. The Utah ski industry has grown and matured and, according to Scott Nelson, president and CEO of First Security Bank of Utah, "The hotel and ski resort industry benefitted from the bid process and the designation as America's Choice, with an outstanding season. Anything that benefits one segment of business spreads out to benefit others."

The world learned about us. We were written about in The London Times, the Wall Street Journal, and USA Today, not once but many times. Virtually every large international newspaper carried the Olympic story, and Salt Lake City fared well. "The Salt Lake committee and delegation conducted itself at the highest level of statesmanship and decorum. We competed well internationally and learned an international language," said Ray Kingston of FFKR Architects. Though Utahns would probably not describe themselves as "the sumptuous Mormon arena" as David Miller did in The London Times, they did convey a more sophisticated, urban, competent image than many would have attributed to Utah just a few short years ago. "If you were trying to promote Utah as a place to live and work you couldn't spend $5 million any better," said Mark Miller, chairman of the Salt Lake Area Chamber of Commerce. Considering that it was private money spent, the taxpayer and the state gained even more by not having to foot the bill. Indeed, another bid, from this perspective, would be beneficial. Fred Rollins, district marketing director for Delta Air Lines agrees. "Salt Lake City is definitely a worldclass city. You cannot buy the publicity that this bid has brought."

A United Effort

It was difficult for most of the participants to focus on anything other than the bid itself or to consider other aspects until after the announcement in Birmingham. Once they recovered from the defeat, however, it was increasingly apparent that Utah gained more than it lost.

"I was proud to be in Birmingham as a representative of Salt Lake City and a member of this community. We could see for ourselves who we were from the presentation. It gave us very positive international exposure. We're a surprise to others," said Nancy Pace, owner of the Brigham Street Inn and a member of the Salt Lake City Council.

Perhaps the least tangible but most important benefit of all was the committed and united effort of the community. Democrats and Republicans, corporate leaders and small-business owners, and volunteers from all sectors pursued the same goal. Business leaders who had not known each other or worked with each other before united in their donation of money, time, and expertise. State and local governments, at all levels, worked together. "This endeavor was the biggest and best I have ever seen in bringing the community closer together. The spirit generated by the people of Utah during the bid process was unbelievable," Rollins commented.

This broad, solid base of support is indicative of the commitment and effort Utahns could and would put forth if the Games eventually come to Salt Lake. It seems everyone involved, even after the loss, feels the positive results from such an effort. "It was an excellent effort," said Jerry McClain, office managing partner of Ernst and Young. "It was worthwhile personally and corporately, particularly from the perspective of community involvement."

A common thought of many of the more than 250 people who traveled to Birmingham was that this foundation can only make the community stronger for other efforts. They believed the people of Utah had gained a common spirit out of its diverse society that did not exist before.

What about 2002?

What comes next remains to be seen. There is a swell of enthusiasm for a bid for the 2002 Winter Games from all sectors of the community. Many financial contributors are already thinking about how they can contribute again, and how they can contribute more. Norm Slaymaker, chairman of the Slaymaker Restaurant Group, considered himself a small contributor this time around. "I'm still on a high from the experience. I came away not condemning the IOC but feeling we've got to continue on the same course and build the venues. I'll contribute more next time," he said.

The state and the Sports Authority Board are committed to moving forward with the site development. Randy Dryer, a partner in the law firm of Parsons Behle and Latimer and a member of the board, said "Uniting the community behind the Olympic bid was a galvanizing effort. The people who participated are now more committed than ever. The charge to the Sports Authority is to build the facilities."

The London times called it "an exceptional American bid that would have been unchallenged in any other campaign." Geography and timing play a major role, and Salt Lake City will be in a more favorable position in 2002. The decision to bid again has not been formally made and may not be made immediately. The reaction, however, from the hundreds who participated in the bid process and from many more in the business community, is that it is worth the effort and the money. If the experience in Birmingham is an indication, Utah has much to gain and little to lose in Budapest in 1995.

Kathy Hillis is marketing director for Utah Business and was a member of the Olympic Bid traveling team.
COPYRIGHT 1991 Olympus Publishing Co.
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 1991 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

Article Details
Printer friendly Cite/link Email Feedback
Title Annotation:Utah business people assess the unsuccessful bid for the 1998 Winter Olympics site
Author:Hillis, Kathy
Publication:Utah Business
Date:Aug 1, 1991
Previous Article:The three steps to going public.
Next Article:How large is Utah's tax bite on business?

Related Articles
A bid for the future: Salt Lake City goes for the gold.
We're in this together: Utah's business community supports the bid.
After the cheers die down: the boon to Utah of Olympic facilities.
Going for the (Taxpayers') Gold: The Olympic Games have produced a gold rush of federal subsidies -- and some of the nation's wealthiest corporate...
SLOC's president discusses the impact of the Winter Games. (Romney Reflects).
USA: Olympic dreams, Olympic gold. (Lesson Plans).
A winter wonderland: experiencing it all on Utah's slopes.

Terms of use | Copyright © 2018 Farlex, Inc. | Feedback | For webmasters