Utah Arts Festival organizers are looking for a new home - perhaps on the City-County Building's Washington Square - now that the Utah Jazz is scheduled to build an arena on the festival's downtown Salt Lake City site.
Jazz owner Larry Miller hopes to begin in June building a new 18,500-seat arena on Block 79, bordered by South Temple, First South, Third West and Fourth West streets. That's the site of the annual Utah Arts Festival.So, Festival Executive Director Linda Bonar proposed in a March 17 letter to Salt Lake Mayor Palmer DePaulis that Washington Square, where the nearly restored City-County Building now stands, as the festival's new location.
The proposal met with some enthusiasm at a meeting in DePaulis' office Tuesday. "That's sort of fitting with what we're trying to do," said Mike Zuhl, the mayor's chief of staff.
The city is trying to strengthen the southern downtown area where the City-County Building is located. "The nice thing about (the festival) is that it would funnel people out of the north downtown area," DePaulis said.
But locating the festival on the historic Washington Square poses some problems. Thousands of people visit the five-day event, scheduled in late June, which could affect newly seeded grass on the square.
Grass on the grounds will be only one year old next year, when the festival would be relocated, and still would be sensitive to abuse, said Rick Graham, assistant director of parks.
But properly maintained, the grounds would suffer minimal damage and most of the festival activities could be focused on Second East and the plaza adjacent to the half-empty Metropolitan Hall of Justice, officials said.
Moving the festival to Washington Square would require some modification to the square and surrounding area, including erecting fences, landscaping, and building bleachers.
Electrical power, perhaps provided by the secondary electrical distribution system in the basement of the City-County Building, would also be necessary, Bonar said.
Bonar also proposed that beer be sold on Washington Square.