By Emily Larson
Capital West News
SALT LAKE CITY – A proposed deal between Utah’s State Fairpark and Real Salt Lake’s minor league soccer team, the Monarchs, would affect the future of the state fair and impact economies statewide.
Fair director, Michael Steele, appeared before the Infrastructure and General Government Appropriations Subcommitee on Jan. 30 to request a extension on the lease of the Fairpark that would allow the board of the Utah State Fair to finalize a deal with Real Salt Lake.
The soccer team has proposed building a stadium at the Fairpark that would house their minor league soccer team, the Monarchs. The stadium would seat 8,000 people and cost around $18 million to build, according to a recent press release from the fair board. The fair board has been guaranteed a lease and a large portion of the revenues from the new stadium. They also hold the rights to advertise and sell concessions around the arena.
Real Salt Lake would permit the Fairpark to use the stadium for three weeks annually during the Utah State Fair. The arena would allow more people to attend concerts, meaning that the fair could attract more popular artists and increase revenues.
During the discussion, Sen. Karen Mayne, D-West Valley City, mentioned the impact the proposed plan would have, not only on the area around the Fairpark, but also on the rest of the state. “There is money that comes from people coming to our fair from all parts of our state and those groups that sponsor the fair, those agricultural communities,” she said.
In order for the deal to become a reality, the Fairpark must secure a 40-year lease on the property. Barring such a term, the board is concerned that Real Salt Lake may not participate. However, some members of the appropriations subcommittee seemed hesitant to grant such a long lease and suggested the state further investigate before signing.
Parking was another major concern for the committee. Steele said currently there is plenty of parking for events that would be held at the proposed stadium, but he said that even with the improvement in TRAX and other public transportation, there may still be problems on busy days of the state fair.
This is not the first discussion about the future of the Fairpark. In July 2014 the Utah Division of Facilities Construction and Management released the results of a study that concluded the Fairpark needed either $33 million in serious renovations or to be relocated at a minimum cost of $166 million.