Salt Lake County's newly elected commissioners say they will leave the Salt Palace arena intact for the time being, despite their plans to remodel the rest of the facility.
They hope to have a detailed plan for remodeling the convention center in hand by mid-January, and they hope it will cost considerably less than the $62 million their predecessors were willing to pay.Commissioner-elect Jim Bradley and an aide to Commissioner-elect Randy Horiuchi met with Gov. Norm Bangerter on Thursday to assure him the county still will support a Salt Palace renovation when Democrats take over leadership of the commission next month.
"The community seems to be a little nervous about us stalling," Bradley said. "We're not stalling. We're just getting our stuff together."
Bradley said the commissioners will have a plan by the time the Legislature meets Jan. 14. The plan will include an expansion of the convention facility and a ballroom and details of how much it will cost to operate and maintain the facility.
But the arena, which made up $31 million of the original plan, will be left alone.
State and local leaders had planned to renovate or remove the arena because it no longer will be needed. Utah Jazz owner Larry Miller is building a new arena to take its place.
"The old package assumes tearing down the arena," said Blaze Wharton, Horiuchi's administrative assistant. "The future options for the drum are so varied. Because that's such a big decision and the most expensive of all, it's going to take more time to make that decision. There are people who have emotional ties to the drum."
Bangerter said his proposed budget for 1991 includes $15 million for the renovation, but he wouldn't mind if that was spent over two years. Under the old plan, Salt Lake City and Salt Lake County were each to provide an additional $15 million. The rest of the money would come from motel taxes that primarily go to the county. Therefore, the county would have paid a double share.
Bangerter advised the new commissioners to take their time. "We've signed off on the concept (of renovation), but we haven't signed off on any technical things, either," he said.