Will SLOC cut rodeo ties? Mitt, Rocky talk it over

December 28, 2001

The Deseret News (Salt Lake City, UT)

By Brady Snyder

Salt Lake Mayor Rocky Anderson said through a spokesman Thursday that he expects the Salt Lake Organizing Committee will cut ties with the Olympic Command Performance Rodeo.

Joshua Ewing, Anderson's spokesman, said the mayor came to that conclusion after the most recent of a series of phone conversations about the rodeo with SLOC President Mitt Romney.

While Romney would've liked to keep the conversation secret, saying through a spokeswoman that it was a "private discussion," Anderson is more than forthcoming.

During the call, Romney told Anderson that if calf-roping wasn't eliminated as a rodeo event, SLOC would cut ties with the rodeo, which is scheduled to be part of SLOC's Cultural Olympiad. And since the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association has stated that it still plans to include calf-roping, Anderson now supposes SLOC will disconnect.

"Mitt had suggested that if calf-roping is in, then SLOC is out," Ewing said. "So we're assuming that since calf-roping is still included, SLOC is out."

But SLOC isn't out, yet.

Despite the phone conversations, SLOC spokeswoman Caroline Shaw said Games organizers remain "committed to having a safe rodeo" and wouldn't confirm or deny that Olympic organizers would sever ties with the rodeo if calf-roping is not banned.

When asked about the phone calls, Shaw said Romney declined to discuss specifics. SLOC remains in discussions with the PRCA, Shaw said, noting that Romney is "very insistent on the calf-roping issue."

But outside a letter penned by Raymond T. Grant, SLOC's artistic director for the Cultural Olympiad, organizers have thus far had little communication with the PRCA, which is producing the rodeo for SLOC.

Shaw noted the lack of further contact was due to the holiday season.

In the letter, sent to PRCA commissioner Steven Hatchell, Grant noted that activists wanted calf-roping off the schedule. But the letter stopped short of dictating an ultimatum to ban calf-roping.

Last week a PRCA spokesman said that the association, sans an ultimatum, doesn't plan to take calf-roping off the program.

If there was such an ultimatum, the decision would be left to Hatchell and the PRCA board, the spokesman said.

Still, Anderson, who spoke with Romney before the PRCA decision, maintains that the SLOC boss is poised to cut ties with the rodeo.

During an earlier phone conversation with Anderson this month, Romney said that if activists promised not to protest during the Olympics, SLOC would consider severing its ties with the rodeo, set for Feb. 9-11 at the Davis County Fairpark, Ewing said.

Any cancellation news is welcomed by Colleen Gardner, campaign manager for the Utah Animal Rights Coalition. If SLOC broke ties with the rodeo, animal rights activists would give up protests planned near Olympic venues, like Salt Lake Olympic Square — a large area downtown, home to the Olympic Medals Plaza, Main Media Center, the Olympic Superstore and the figure-skating/short-track speedskating venue, she said.

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