Utah County commissioners told the Citizens Committee for the Utah Valley Special Events Center Monday that they will likely ask voters in March to approve $7.7 million in general-obligation bonds to help fund the center.

The committee, which comprises several prominent business and community leaders, is proposing that the county join with Utah Valley Community College to build a facility that would seat between 6,500 and 8,500 people. The center would be used for trade shows, conventions, concerts, athletic events and public gatherings. Currently the only Utah County facility that seats more than 2,000 people is the Marriott Center on the Brigham Young University campus.The proposed center would be part of UVCC's plan to build a new physical education building. If the county provides $7.7 million in financing, the state will provide the remaining portion to expand the physical education building into a larger community center. The project is expected to cost about $18 million, with the state's share being about $10 million.

The committee appeared before the commission to request a special bond election to finance the county's share of the project. The committee says the center will help the county expand economically and culturally. Ed Pinegar, committee chairman, said the county may never have an opportunity like this again and should take advantage of it.

"The time has come for us as citizens of Utah Valley to develop a cultural, educational and community center," Pinegar said.

Commissioners agreed with the committee and said the center would be beneficial to the county. Commissioners said the center would help the county attract industry and business. Participation in the project could save future taxpayers thousands of dollars.

"We have a real opportunity in Utah County to be competitive and bring in the people we want," Commissioner Malcolm Beck said.

Kerry Romesburg, UVCC president, said the Legislature has already approved about $60,000 in funds to pay for the planning costs of the physical education building. The election must be held soon so planners know what kind of building to draw plans for - the physical education building or the community center. Romesburg said the new physical education building is second on the Board of Regents priority list.

"If there are any new facilities that are going to be built, this is one that will happen," Romesburg said.

Romesburg said the college would bear most of the center's operating and maintenance costs. Costs that the college does not pay would be covered by rental income.