Major League Soccer team Real Salt Lake appears to have decided to build its stadium in Sandy, one of three cities vying for the 20,000- to 25,000-seat venue.
Two people familiar with negotiations but who did not want to be identified said Monday that Real Salt Lake will build the stadium on approximately 20 acres at the northwest corner of the 9400 South and State Street intersection.
Team spokesman Trey Fitz-Gerald would neither confirm nor deny that the stadium is going to be in Sandy. The stadium site, for which Salt Lake and Murray also have vied, will be announced at a news conference scheduled Wednesday at 3 p.m., Fitz-Gerald said.
"There are plenty of meetings meetings upon meetings in the next, probably, 48 hours between now and Wednesday's announcement that are going to determine a large number of the details that everybody's looking for," Fitz-Gerald said Monday afternoon.
Among those details is the matter of paying for the stadium, which Fitz-Gerald estimated will cost $60 million. The team said previously it wanted to split the cost of the stadium between public and private money, but it is unknown what portion of the proposed $60 million price tag would fall on taxpayers.
"That's one of the many issues that we're working through," Fitz-Gerald said.
Salt Lake City and Murray had long competed for the stadium, but Sandy began its campaign after offering use of a $20 million parking garage to be shared by the South Towne Exposition Center and the stadium. In April, the Legislature gave Salt Lake County $20 million for the structure as part of an $82 million bond for expanding the Salt Palace Convention Center in downtown Salt Lake City.
Salt Lake City had contributed $8 million to the $82 million expansion bond, and City Council members said Sandy should not use the parking garage as a selling point for the stadium because Sandy did not contribute to the bond.
Salt Lake County still has the money for the parking garage, but there are no detailed plans for it yet, Sandy Mayor Tom Dolan said.
Bonnie Miller, who owns the property at 9400 South and State Street and serves as a trustee for her family's estate, said her land is under contract. However, the real estate agent involved, Dan Simons Jr., refused to name the entity purchasing the property. Sandy is not buying it, Dolan said.
Greg Curtis, speaker of the state House of Representatives and a Republican from Sandy who co-sponsored the bond legislation, thinks the answer for finding $60 million for the stadium could lie in legislation specifically for the stadium area. Curtis and Nick Duerksen, assistant director for Sandy community development, both mentioned that a model could be an enterprise zone in Phoenix that allowed tax benefits for businesses within the zone to jump-start job creation.
Part of the appeal of a Real Salt Lake stadium, however, is that the team is bringing jobs with it already, Sandy Mayor Tom Dolan said. Some of those jobs will be through another of owner David Checketts' projects, the College Sports Network, which is contracted to start broadcasting Mountain West Conference college games. Dolan said the network likely would relocate to office space near the stadium.
"The College Sports Network (is) the reason that I became interested in this to start with," Dolan said. "The discussions were about bringing this network and their jobs to our community high-paying jobs to hire people locally to staff this television station."
Dolan also wanted the stadium for other events lacrosse, rugby, games from other soccer leagues and junior league tournaments. The stadium "wasn't just about soccer," he said. It was "not just a stadium and the soccer team, (but also) all these other things."
Meanwhile, Murray has found buyers for the property it proposed for the stadium in the Fireclay district near 4500 South and Main Street. Mayor Dan Snarr said Sandy getting the stadium wouldn't surprise him. "I pretty well figured that out," he said, but wished Dolan good luck. Salt Lake City Mayor Rocky Anderson did not return a phone call seeking comment. But City Councilman Carlton Christensen, whose district includes another proposed stadium site the State Fairpark at North Temple and 1000 West said he is disappointed Real Salt Lake appears to have chosen Sandy."Since they're investing their own money as well, it's pretty hard to tell them where to go," Christensen said. "I think it would have been a win-win for both the Fairpark and for them, (but) the price tag was really getting up there."