The proposed Utah Valley Special Events Center has struck a sour note with at least one local businessman.
Victor Borcherds, owner of Seven Peaks Resort, has some objections to the plan to build an events center at Utah Valley Community College."I think the whole thing is premature. It's wrong," he said.
Community leaders and college officials have trumpeted the benefits of the facility. They said the various events that would be held in the building would enhance economic development in the valley.
Borcherds said Utah County officials should wait to see if Salt Lake City is awarded the 1998 Winter Olympic Games before moving ahead with a special bond election for the $7.7 million center. Provo stands to gain a $4.5 million ice rink should Salt Lake City win the Olympic bid this June. It would be built using anticipated television revenues.
By raising another $1.5 million, Borcherds said, the Olympic ice arena could be turned into a multipurpose facility - eliminating the need for the UVCC building.
Borcherds donated land next to his water park and nearly completed golf course at the base of Maple Mountain for the Olympic venue. He also owns the Excelsior Hotel in downtown Provo.
But Mayor Joe Jenkins and Carol Thorne, a Utah Sports Authority board member from Provo, said that would be used almost exclusively for ice sports.
"I think we're going to keep it more or less used for ice," Thorne said.
Early on, city officials intended to construct the ice sheet as a multiuse facility. But now, "I really don't think so. I think that's mostly going to be used for ice," Jenkins said.
Jenkins and Thorne said they both favor the building of an events center at the Orem campus.
Nobody wants to speak out against the proposal because "politically it's the worst thing in the world to go against it," Borcherds said. He said his conscience won't let him do otherwise.
On April 9, county residents will vote on whether to bond for the UVCC events center. The County Commission is considering a 1 percent tax on meals sold at county eating establishments to pay off the bond should voters approve it. The Legislature passed a bill allowing counties to levy the tax for tourism, recreation and convention facilities.
"I really think this vote should be suspended. It's too early," Borcherds said.
Borcherds said he opposes public money being used to build the campus facility. "We don't want another government monstrosity that competes against us."
Supporters of the events center say it will bring additional tourist dollars to Utah Valley.
Borcherds doesn't think so. "I'm not sure what tourism UVCC is going to promote," he said.
College officials said the events center could host a variety of civic, social and cultural activities, including business conventions.
Borcherds called that "a joke. There is no such thing as convention business (in Utah County)." There isn't enough hotel space in the community to accommodate conventions, he said.
The blueprints haven't been drawn for the 8,500-seat arena, but the college has $50,000 in planning money. The Legislature appropriated the money for the designing of a $10-million physical education building at UVCC. Should voters approve a bond for the events center, the money would be used to draw plans for both facilities.
Olympic ice rink or UVCC building?
Utah County voters will decide April 9 whether to contribute $7.7 million in local tax money toward the Utah Valley Speical Events Center.
"I thing the whole thing is premature. It's wrong." - Seven Peaks resort owner Victor Borcherds. For just $1.5 million, the ice rink that wold be built if the Olympics come to Utah could be expanded into a multipurpose facility.
"I think we're goint to keep it more or less used for ice." - Carol Thorne, Utah Sports Authority board member.