When they attend games in the Salt Palace this season, Utah Jazz fans won't have far to look to the future. They'll just have to locate themselves outside of Acord Arena and look due west about a block. The cranes and heavy equipment machinery now in place will soon enough be replaced by a brand new, $66 million, 22,000-seat multi-purpose arena that will serve as the permanent home of the Jazz.
Completion date is October of 1991, in time for the team to kick off the 1991-92 season in the new facility, which will seat 22,000 for concerts and 19,500 for basketball.Included will be 50 luxury suites that will make the Jazz arena state-of-the-art for basketball spectating; a facility that will rival or surpass the new structures recently finished in Detroit and Charlotte.
Besides the Jazz, who will play 41 regular season games a year in the arena, as well as exhibition games and playoff games, the arena will be used by the Salt Lake Golden Eagles hockey team and for concerts and other exhibitions. Estimates are that the arena will be in use from 210 to 220 nights a year.
Also, should a Utah bid for the Winter Olympics in 1998 or 2002 be successful, the arena would be the showcase stage for ice hockey and figure skating competitions.
The arena is being built by Jazz owner Larry H. Miller, who is financing the $66 million structure through a loan with Sumitimo Trust of Japan. The ground for the facility and adjacent parking was donated by the Salt Lake Redevelopment Agency. Estimated at a $20 million value, Miller will lease the land from the redevelopment agency for $1 a year for 50 years.
Official groundbreaking ceremonies for the arena were held on May 22 and actual construction began on June 11. Strict terms of Miller's loan dictate that the construction be finished by Oct. of `91. Construction is a dual venture with Sahara Construction Co. of Utah and the Japan-based Ohbayashi Corp.
At the official groundbreaking ceremonies, over 3,000 Jazz fans attended a lunchtime fete that included speeches from city and state dignitaries and the traditional first shovel-ful of dirt.
Governor Norm Bangerter said on the occasion, "If Hot Rod Hundley were to say it, he'd say, `We've come a long way, baby,' and we've got to go a lot further."'
Salt Lake County Commissioner Bart Barker praised the progressive thinking of Miller and the Jazz, stating that the new arena continued the vision city officials had 25 years previous when they'd decided to build the Salt Palace, a facility that had helped mold a $100 million yearly benefit to Salt Lake City and the state of Utah.
The Jazz needed a bigger arena after virtually selling every seat in the Salt Palace for the last three seasons.
The new arena, yet to be named, will be located on 10 acres of land bordered by South Temple, 100 West, 100 South and 300 West streets in Salt Lake.
On June 11, when the work actually began, it began in earnest. Dozens of bulldozers and dump trucks moved in to begin a massive project to move 170,000 yards of dirt in a 59-day time period.