TRYING TO ICE THE OLYMPICS
With 2� years to go until the Lake Placid Winter Olympics, there is talk—again—about how to avoid a financial disaster. Montreal started off with a $310 million project and a plan for intimate Games for the athletes. By the time all the bills had come in, the Olympics had mushroomed into a $1.4 billion extravaganza. Lake Placid, a town of 2,800 in upstate New York, claims to have learned from the Montreal experience.
For starters, the wary Lake Placid Olympic Organizing Committee already has signed a no-strike agreement with the unions involved. This is to avoid the kind of labor disputes that wrecked Montreal's construction budget and caused delays that threatened to force cancellation of the Olympics. Then, Lake Placid invited bids from construction companies and made them public. The lowest bids got the nod.
Now for the revenue. Since the Olympic Village will later be used as a minimum-security prison, the entire $22 million project, including transformation costs, will be paid by the U.S. Department of Justice. Lake Placid also has received a $49 million federal grant for other building costs. And a $13 million grant from New York State will be used for the improvement of the facilities on state-owned land, including the bobsled and luge run, the cross-country and biathlon courses and the downhill runs on White Face Mountain.
Lake Placid already has nailed down ABC television for $15.5 million and is negotiating with the European Broadcasting Union, the European TV network. Placid is asking $10 million from Europe; EBU says it will pay about $1 million. "We are willing to go down, but they will have to raise their offer," says Ed Lewi, spokesman for the organizing committee. "What we don't want is to get stuck with a $20 million loss [involving television rights] like Montreal."
The last Winter Games, at Innsbruck in 1976, cost $400 million. "The Lake Placid Organizing Committee is hoping to bring the whole thing in for under $100 million," says Lewi. "Our theme is: 'The Olympics in perspective.' " That sounds familiar.
The state of Maine is seeking to help its deer population, and in typical governmental style, the bureaucrats will attempt to do it with mirrors.
The problem is that the deer persist in crossing highways without looking. In 1975, the last year for which complete figures are available, 1,400 deer were killed by vehicles on Maine's highways. The state has decided to install 2,000 five-inch-square mirrors of polished metal at 66-foot intervals along a section of Interstate 95. Then, theoretically, the headlights of vehicles reflecting in the mirrors will distract and confuse the deer, causing them to pause long enough to allow cars and trucks to pass before continuing their potentially deadly journey.
Parts of the 18-mile stretch of expressway will have the mirrors, parts won't. State officials say they'll study the results to see if the mirrors make any difference. Cost for the first year is estimated at $30,000. Maintenance and monitoring for additional years is estimated at $11,000 to $15,000 per.