Any assistance state officials can give to the Salt Palace Expansion Task Force as it studies various alternatives of expanding that facility and building new convention space will be appreciated.
So said the Board of Governors of the Salt Lake Area Chamber of Commerce in a letter to Gov. Norm Bangerter approved July 12."As discussion (of the expansion) continues, it appears obvious that some type of involvement from Utah state government will be very conducive in making this proposal a reality," the letter said. It was signed by Wm. James Mortimer, board chairman, and Fred S. Ball, chamber president.
"Since the State of Utah generates great benefits from this facility it would appear to the Chamber of Commerce that the state review and investigate possible sources of assistance to the planners and organizers of this effort." the letter said.
The task force is studying the feasibility and funding aspects of building a new Salt Palace two blocks west of the existing facility that will start with 18,000 seats and the possibility of expanding to 25,000 seats. In connection with this construction, officials want to expand convention exhibit space and build a speed skating oval.
Mortimer and Ball said the state has a strong interest in the success of the Salt Palace. The tax revenues from the convention facilities, the arena and the performing and visual arts facilities generate a sizable income for the state, and every Utahn benefits.
They said major competing cities such as Denver and Seattle are building new convention facilities and other cities are expanding existing convention space. "We are already behind other cities in our ability to attract national conventions," they said.
The board also sent a letter to Larry H. Miller, owner of the Utah Jazz, saying the chamber supports the Salt Palace expansion because a move to build another arena elsewhere in Salt Lake County would result in competition and both arenas could suffer.
Miller, based on a new collective bargaining agreement with the National Basketball Association players that he claims will result in an increased payroll, said he needs additional seats to sell to meet the higher payroll. The letter asked Miller to keep the Jazz in the downtown area even though the chamber represents the entire Salt Lake Valley.
At the same meeting, Bob Bailey, Utah Ski Association executive director, updated board members of the status of the Canyon Master Plan by Salt Lake County to guide the future of the canyons east of Salt Lake City.
Bailey said several alternative plans are being suggested and he encouraged board members to attend public meetings and tell county officials which plans they like. The plans range from eliminating all future construction in the canyons to allowing for new developments of various types including Interconnect, a scheme to connect five ski resorts with a tram.
One public hearing will be held July 27 at 7 p.m. in Olympus Junior High School and the other Aug. 1 at 7 p.m. in the Salt Lake County Complex, 2001 S. State.
Bailey said a balance between preserving the water quality and the environment and allowing some development can be achieved. The ski industry and possible expansion of the ski resorts is important to the Utah economy, he said.