The Utah County Council of Governments has come across a bargain too good to pass up. So it decided to give Utah County voters a chance to buy.

For just over $7.5 million, Utah County can have its own special events center. No more will Novell Inc. have to travel to the Salt Palace in Salt Lake City for its annual Christmas party. Utah County can have a place of its own for concerts, conventions and other special events.The center, with seating for at least 8,000, can be built so inexpensively because the state has approved a $10 million physical education and activity center for Utah Valley Community College. If the county can raise the $7.5 million, then the facility can be expanded to meet the area's need for a special events center.

But time is short. State Sen. Chuck Peterson, R-Provo, said the state appropriation for planning the building will be available July 1. If the county wants in, it has to be ready by that time.

The Council of Governments, composed of county commissioners and mayors, agreed Thursday to hold a special bond election, probably in March, to ask voters to fund the county's share of the building.

Provo Mayor Joe Jenkins said the timing is just right for getting the facility. Not only is the state going to payfor most of the building, but the bond market also has the lowest interest rates in years.

The current facility with the most seating capacity in Utah County outside of Brigham Young University is the Tabernacle in American Fork, County Commissioner Malcolm Beck said. It is not an appropriate facility for all the kinds of activities that could be hosted in a new center.

The Marriott Center at BYU is too large for many events and not available for most non-BYU functions. Peterson said Marriott Center officials have said the events they have to turn away likely would keep another center busy.

Utah County needs a place for fairs and other county events, Peterson said.

The center would be on the UVCC campus so state funds would maintain the building, saving the county a major expense, he said. "There would be no worry about upkeep."


(Additional information)

Proposed center for special events

What: Facility for concerts, conventions, fairs.

Where: UVCC Campus, Orem

Seating: 8,000 minimum

Cost: $10 million from the state, $7.5 million from Utah County.

Election: Probably in March , for Utah County voters to decide wheater to come up with the local protion of the money