A soccer stadium is a solid investment for Sandy, Salt Lake County and Utah: That's the message delivered Tuesday by two mayors and the Real Salt Lake team owner to local Rotary Club members.

Salt Lake County Mayor Peter Corroon, Sandy Mayor Tom Dolan and Real Salt Lake owner Dave Checketts were part of a panel discussion on the soon-to-be-built Sandy soccer stadium.

"The bottom line is Salt Lake County will own everything it puts money into," Corroon said of the $40 million the county plans to give to Real. That amount includes $20 million in shared parking and $20 million in hotel taxes for infrastructure.

Real plans to build a 42-acre, $180 million stadium and adjoining hotel and broadcast studio. On top of the money from the county, Sandy will kick in $15 million in redevelopment-agency funds. The parcel where the stadium will stand will eventually be a $650 million, 136-acre mixed-use project.

Soccer is rapidly becoming a popular sport in the United States because of the changing face of Americans, Checketts told the Salt Lake and Sandy Rotary Club members. Many people are migrating to the United States from other countries and bringing along their love for the sport.

"Now they can all be on the same side," he said. The national and international events Real brings to town, like the recent Real Madrid game, bring a massive amount of free publicity to the state, he added. "We cannot get a better advertisement."

Dolan said the public dollars helping to build the stadium site are aiding a blighted piece of land.

"I don't think we could go back and say, 'We don't want Franklin Field, because it uses public funds,'" he said, referring to Franklin Covey Field in South Salt Lake, home of minor-league baseball team Salt Lake Bees. "I think public funds have a place, and that is infrastructure."

Dolan and five Sandy councilmen recently returned from a trip to Frisco, Texas, where the newest Major League Soccer Stadium was built last year. Frisco is similar to Sandy, Dolan said, because its population has boomed in the last couple years, and the stadium has become a catalyst to development.

"It's really been kind of the anchor project," he said. "They really had this vision of taking what was cornfields and developing this downtown."

New housing, hotels and office space are part of the Frisco downtown. And it's development Dolan hopes to also see around the Real Stadium.

Groundbreaking in Sandy is expected later this fall.


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