Plates would help ski team |

Plates would help ski team

Patrick Parkinson, Of the Record staff

The Center of Excellence in Park City could become the finest training facility for skiers and snowboarders in the world, the chief of the United States Ski and Snowboard Association says.

To help achieve that, a Summit County lawmaker hopes to raise $25,000 annually for the facility by selling Utah license plates emblazoned with the ski team logo.

"Ultimately, I think it’s going to be really a popular plate," said Bill Marolt, USSA president and chief executive officer. "It reaches out to all corners of the state and that’s good for us."

Senate Bill 80, sponsored by Sen. Kevin Van Tassell, a Vernal Republican who represents Park City, would make the customized plates available to drivers who make a $25 donation to USSA.

"We believe that we are building a facility that is going to offer our elite athletes, as well as our training athletes, a unique opportunity that will give them an edge over the competition," Marolt said.

USSA spokesman Tom Kelly compared the facility at Quinn’s Junction to a famous training center the United States Tennis Association operates on the East Coast.

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"It will be an education center for all of our coaches and athletes to take advantage of," Kelly said. "It isn’t just a place where people come to train."

The U.S. Ski Team and U.S. Snowboarding are based in Park City where some of the best winter athletes train yearlong.

Van Tassell said he expects people in Summit County to buy many of the initial 1,000 USSA license plates.

"If we sell all 1,000 license plates, it will raise $25,000 a year," said the senator in a telephone interview. "Hopefully we can sell all those."

The plates would help remind drivers that Park City has become a hub for ski racing, Marolt said.

"It gives Park City and really the whole state of Utah more credibility as a ski center," he said.

As crews at the center installed concrete and steel Friday, Marolt said the project has been in the works for about a decade.

"Ultimately, it’s going to manifest itself in a world class facility," Marolt said. "The facility is going to help us stay up, and in some case, ahead of our competition."

House members must still consider SB 80 before Gov. Jon Huntsman Jr. can sign the bill into law.

Producing the license plates could cost that state $12,500, Van Tassell said.

"It’s really going to become a Park City license plate," Van Tassell said. "That’ll probably be the primary market."