Most Utahns want the Utah Jazz to play before more fans, and they prefer that a private group pay for any new arena built for the Jazz, the latest Deseret News/KSL-TV poll shows.
Jazz owner Larry Miller says the current Salt Palace Arena, which seats just over 12,000, is the smallest in the National Basketball Association. Its size is severely harming the Jazz's ability to make money.Now a plan has been unveiled that would help Miller build a new 18,500-seat arena in downtown Salt Lake City.
Pollster Dan Jones & Associates found in a January poll that 56 percent of those questioned want the Jazz to play before more fans, either through building a new arena or expanding the current Salt Palace arena.
Thirty-five percent of those Jones questioned don't want either a new arena or an expanded Salt Palace, and 8 percent didn't know.
Of those who said they want a new arena, 41 percent said they want private business to pay for it (that's Miller's plan), 33 percent want some combination of public and private funding, while 10 percent want state government to build the facility.
Tuesday, Republican lawmakers were told the state should make up a $500,000 yearly deficit in the Uniform School Fund that could result from the complicated financing scheme Miller wants.
Here how it works: The Salt Lake City Council, acting as the city's Redevelopment Agency, will condemn a downtown block, site of the new arena. The city will lease the land to Miller for a small amount, like $1 a year. Miller will borrow $45 million to build the arena. Since the blockwill be part of the RDA's district, increased property values caused by the new arena will flow to the district, not to the regular property taxing agencies, which include the state's school districts. District money goes into the Uniform School Fund, and that's where the $500,000 shortfall may occur.
Notice the "may," for senators were told that the larger arena should generate $7 million in new sales tax on tickets and other revenue. So the possible $500,000 shortfall should really turn into a $6.5 million natural increase in taxes.