More than half of the Utahns surveyed by Dan Jones and Associates favor using tax money to pay for a new Salt Palace arena if private money also is used.

The survey shows that 55 percent of those surveyed are willing to commit tax dollars to a new arena.But few would be willing to spend a lot. (See chart.)

The survey, commissioned by the Salt Palace Feasibility Task Force, showed strong support for the Salt Palace across the state.

"The people believe it is important to the economy of the city, county and state," said Truman Clawson, task force chairman. "We were surprised at the positive feelings about the Salt Palace and the Jazz," he said.

Dan Jones and Associates surveyed 1,006 people across the state between Dec. 19 and Dec. 21.

Of those surveyed, 74 percent said the Salt Palace is important to Utah's economy. More than 80 percent said the Salt Palace is important to Salt Lake County's economy.

Among Davis County respondents, 62 percent said tax money should be used in conjunction with private dollars to pay for a new Salt Palace arena. Surprisingly, most of the respondents from counties outside of the Wasatch Front - 59 percent - also said tax dollars should be used. Of those from Utah County, 55 percent would commit tax dollars to the arena, while 53 percent of those from Salt Lake County and 48 percent of those from Weber favor use of tax dollars.

More than 70 percent of those surveyed have visited the Salt Palace in the last year. Predictably, most people associate the Salt Palace with the Jazz basketball team and the Golden Eagles hockey team. Concerts, ice skating shows and circuses also draw Utahns to the Salt Palace.

Salt Palace parking received the harshest criticism. Nearly half of those surveyed said parking is poor. About 25 percent said it is average. Only 16 percent said it is good or better.

The survey brought happy news to the task force: "The more knowledgeable the public is, the more it felt there should be a new arena," Jones said.

He drew a parallel between the public's response to the Salt Palace expansion proposal and the public's response to the tax-limitation initiatives. When Taxpayers for Utah learned that the more people knew about the initiatives, the less they supported them, the group knew it only had to inform the public to defeat the initiatives, Jones said.

The task force faces the same situation: if it informs its public, it wins its war.

"I don't think we've really carried our case to the public yet, so I'm surprised the response is as strong as it is at this point," Clawson said.



Extent of support

Not surprisingly, the size of a tax increase determines the support. Here's the percentage of those who would be willing to pay.

$60 or more/year 2 percent

$124-$60/year 10 percent

$13-$23/year 32 percent

$12 or less/year 50 percent