There were no surprises in the first committee report delivered Wednesday morning to a county task force studying alternatives for a larger downtown arena to house the Utah Jazz.
The report, prepared by the task force's Options Committee, calls for an 18,500-seat multi-purpose arena to which more seats can be added if future demand warrants, and for upgraded and expanded convention facilities.Although it includes no specific recommendation for construction of a new arena, the document assumes that a new arena complex will be built.
It recommends that sufficient area be reserved for future expansion of the complex, possibly including a heliport and additional facilities to house Winter Olympics events.
The report encourages that a science center, planetarium, children's museum and large-screen IMAX theater be included in the complex as a "community of activites."
It makes no recommendations about the two most controversial issues to arise from the arena study - moving the state fair to a downtown arena and having the Salt Lake Arts Center swap existing locations with the Hansen Planetarium.
The report does calls for further study of the feasibility of moving the fair downtown, and says if the arts center is moved it should have a location of the size and quality of its current facility.
The report makes general recommendations for adequate parking facilities, accommodation of mass transit and for consideration of the new complex's downtown neighbors but offers no specifics.
The Options Committee was responsible only for determining what activities should be provided for in a downtown arena complex and what facilities are necessary to house those activities.
Three other committees working under the task force will use the Options Committee report as a basis for making specific recommendations.
Commissioners appointed the task force last month and instructed members to report by Oct. 31 on whether a new arena should be built, and if so, where is should be located, how its construction and operation could be funded without a tax increase and how the new facility should be managed.
Task force executive director John Rosenthal, director of the county's Administrative Services Department, said the task force is about 10 days ahead of schedule despite the time constraints.
According to the task force's schedule, a Costs and Configurations Committee now has until Sept. 30 to deliver its report to the task force. A Finance Committee and a Management Committee have an Oct. 15 deadline.
While the official recommendation on whether to build a new arena or expand the existing 12,444-seat Salt Palace will be left to the Costs and Configurations Committee, task force members already clearly favor a new arena.
A consultant's report delivered two weeks ago estimated the cost of adding up to 6,000 seats to the Salt Palace at $25 million to $35 million. The extreme distance of most of those seats from the playing floor would mean they would command low ticket prices.
Dave Checketts, Jazz president and general manager, has told the task force the team needs more premium quality seats that it can sell for top ticket prices. The Jazz annual payroll is expected to double over the next five years to more than $10 million because of a new labor contract between the NBA and its players union.