August Miller, Deseret Morning News
(From left front row only) Salt Lake Mayor Rocky Anderson, Real Madrid player Roberto Carlos, Sandy Mayor Tom Dolan, Real Salt Lake owner Dave Checketts, Real Madrid players David Beckham, Julio Baptista, Real Madrid coach Fabio Capello, and Real Madrid president Ramon Calderon turn shovels at the groundbreaking for the new Real Salt Lake Soccer Stadium today in Sandy.

SANDY — International soccer superstar David Beckham shoveled dirt on the Sandy soccer stadium site prior to Saturday's Real Salt Lake vs. Real Madrid exhibition match.

The Real Madrid player joined Real Salt Lake team owner Dave Checketts, Utah Gov. Jon Huntsman, Jr., Sandy Mayor Tom Dolan, Salt Lake City Mayor Rocky Anderson and Utah House Speaker Greg Curtis in a groundbreaking ceremony for the 42-acre stadium and adjoining hotel and broadcast studio.

Although a funding deal is not done yet, Checketts said he took a "leap of faith" that he can come to some sort of an agreement with the county soon.

"There are details that still have to be worked out, but sooner or later you have to make a go or no-go decision," Checketts said. "And today was my deadline, and I took a leap of faith. I put my trust in our leaders that details will be worked out."

Salt Lake County Mayor Peter Corroon announced a proposal Friday that includes $55 million in public subsidies to build a soccer-specific stadium in Sandy. He faxed it to Checketts late Friday afternoon.

The county would use $20 million in hotel-room taxes to help build infrastructure at the stadium, with Sandy paying $15 million in redevelopment agency funds. The team would also share with the South Towne Exposition Center a $20 million parking garage that would be built on the west side of State Street.

Real officials still want to negotiate how they can use the hotel-tax room dollars.

The deal came at the last possible minute. Saturday was Checketts' deadline to secure public funding for a stadium.

Dolan, who has been working on stadium funding proposals in Sandy for over a year, was ecstatic about the news.

"Honestly, the emotions I'm feeling are similar to when my first son was born," Dolan said. "I just want you to know that Dave Checketts is the man."


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