Private developers continue to approach the Utah Jazz with new-arena proposals, while Jazz officials await the results of an intergovernmental group's move toward construction of a Salt Palace II.
The latest inquiry came from a developer who purchased the Chicago Iron & Bridge property between 13th South and 17th South adjacent to I-15. The developer met this week with Jazz president David Checketts, who said the idea is one of about 20 he's received."I have no idea if he could really make this work," Checketts said Friday from the NBA Annual Meetings in Palm Beach Gardens, Fla. The developer reportedly would make a new arena the centerpiece of a sports complex to attract the Jazz.
Checketts is placing all private developers on hold until the completion of task force reports and studies under the direction of Salt Lake County. He is, however, frustrated about delays affecting the task force's work, including the hiring of a new consultant. "I feel like it's getting bogged down," he said. "I was afraid this would happen, anytime you get this many people involved."
Recently, more questions have been raised about whether enough bookings can be made to keep two adjacent arenas viable. Jazz officials, meanwhile, are more convinced than ever that they still need a new arena, following NBA guidelines that will force them to raise their player payroll by almost $2 million this season.
"We have to do it," Checketts said of moving into a new building. "We have to make more money, and I've found every way I possibly can."
Checketts said he told Jazz owner Larry Miller recently that unless an arena is built, Miller faces the prospect of having to sell the franchise.
Miller hoped to have a new arena ready for the 1990-91 NBA season, but has since adjusted his goal to 1991-92. If new buildings open as scheduled this fall, the 12,444-seat Salt Palace will be the smallest arena in the 25-city NBA.
At least, Checketts said, private developers are giving the Jazz some alternative plans if the Salt Palace II plan falls through.
"Everybody's got an idea," he said, noting that several include attractive financial plans. "I don't know if any of them could really perform, but it's nice to know they're there if we need them."