While Real Salt Lake is pouring its efforts into a funding deal with Salt Lake County, the team is looking for more public dollars for a Sandy stadium through the state Legislature.
Sandy Mayor Tom Dolan told the Deseret Morning News on Friday that the city is considering promoting a bill this session to create another funding source to help pay for the 136-acre Major League Soccer project.
When asked for details, Dolan replied: "I don't want to talk about this right now."
House Speaker, Greg Curtis, R-Sandy, confirmed late Friday that he has been talking with Dolan about funding options but isn't sold on the idea of running a bill to fund a soccer stadium.
"I just really don't know if I have the fight in me," Curtis said. "That would involve a significant legislative fight. I'm not sure that my legislative colleagues are going to step in and say, 'We're going to do it.'"
A Real spokesman also declined to comment on any bills that might help fund a stadium.
"Our efforts are 100-percent focused on getting the county deal done," said Eric Gelfand, senior vice president of communications at SCP Worldwide, the company of Real team owner Dave Checketts. The company owns 50 percent of the team.
Real Salt Lake and county leaders are still negotiating over $30 million in hotel taxes to help fund the stadium. Final negotiations are expected to conclude before the legislative session wraps up.
Salt Lake County Mayor Peter Corroon denied Real's first funding plan in May, and the County Council followed suit in July. That angered several local leaders, including Dolan, who said at the time that the project "is dead."
Despite assertions from county leaders that they are still considering the deal, Curtis doesn't buy it.
"I said it was up to the county, and they have determined from my perspective they have determined to not do it," Curtis said. "They said (the funding deal is) still alive. I don't believe it."
During last year's legislative session, leaders passed a bill that allowed Salt Lake County to levy a tourism tax for the stadium project. Although legislators authorized the use, its implementation was left to the discretion of the county.
But now that the stadium deal is unfolding, Curtis is relying on a resolution, passed by the County Council, promising the Legislature that the county won't spend any hotel-room taxes without direction from the Legislature.
Curtis said he is preparing for the worst a county "no" vote against the stadium and has a back-up plan on what to do with the hotel-room taxes. He filed a blank bill file Friday titled "Transient Room Taxes Amendments," for a bill that would direct the county on how to spend the money, as well as urge county leaders to finally start construction on a parking garage at the South Towne Exposition Centre.
Leftover money not used on the parking garage could possibly fund an expansion at the Hogel Zoo, or a TRAX line to the Salt Lake City International Airport, Curtis said. Curtis has threatened in the past that if the county didn't fund the soccer stadium, he might push to redirect hotel-tax dollars to the airport TRAX line.
Transient room taxes, also known as hotel-room taxes, fund and promote tourism, recreation and convention projects, including the Salt Palace and South Towne Exposition Center. Take that away, and the county would lose a major funding source for the Salt Palace and other tourism-related facilities.
Some county leaders, including Salt Lake County Councilman Joe Hatch, fear the bill is the first of many bills that would punish the county for not approving the stadium deal.