Monday, October 14, 2013


Mitt Saves The Games

July 28, 2001|By CATHY HARASTA; The Dallas Morning News

DALLAS — Meet Mitt Romney -- or you'll wish you had.
For those not yet acquainted with the Salt Lake Organizing Committee's president, ``smooth'' doesn't even begin to describe this man's methods in bringing respectability to a financially challenged Olympic Games edition.
Every Olympic move Romney has made has been swift to the extent that you wonder if he is Mark Spitz in a business suit.
Romney might not have intended to maneuver himself into the role of resurrector of a needy U.S. Olympic movement. But that's what happened.
The latest in a series of significant milestones for the Romney tenure occurred last week. SLOC -- a candidate for last rites not so long ago -- moved into the realm of potential profitability. This is the same SLOC that owned a $379 million budget deficit in February 1999, when Romney took control of a scandalized outfit that had sponsors turning squeamish.
But deals with Allstate Insurance Co. and Campbell Soup Co. last week helped balance SLOC's books, and then some.
This positive news for the Salt Lake City Winter Games, just more than six months away, followed a mid-July International Olympic Committee session in Moscow that underscored the United States' position as an outsider in the global Olympic movement.
New IOC president Jacques Rogge of Belgium has recognized the necessity of making the IOC's relationship with the U.S. Olympic Committee more buddy-buddy. He will visit Salt Lake City and USOC headquarters in Colorado Springs next month.
But the USOC still struggles in the leadership department. The able Scott Blackmun still retains the title of acting CEO. New USOC president Sandra Baldwin has demonstrated she wants to play ball with the global sports powers. But Baldwin still is new on the job, having won the post in December.
So make it Romney. No question he is the most plausible individual to shape the U.S. Olympic movement's charge toward improved status within the IOC. Watch him shape it by using charisma and contrivance -- quite a one-two punch.
From wondering if Salt Lake City should bow out and return the 2002 Games for re-assignment, Romney emerged as a capable budgetary wizard.
He has said the taxpayers would end up with a windfall -- magic words to taxpayers.
After the Olympic movement's worst scandal -- an influence-peddling saga that savaged Salt Lake City's image -- Romney has the 2002 Games positioned to make money. A sponsorship gap of about $47 million remains, but SLOC's contingency fund more than makes up for it. A recent report put SLOC $9 million in the black.
And to prove Romney has a sense of humor, SLOC recently released a list of Mitt's top 10 bloopers and a special commemorative pin embossed with ``Mitt Happens.'' The pin is shaped like a catcher's mitt.

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