It looks like Salt Lake County could end up ponying up more cash to the Sandy soccer stadium after all.
But no money will actually go straight to the stadium.
Instead, the county might extend a deal that gives Sandy $300,000 a year for the Sandy Amphitheater. The county has provided that funding for several years now, but the deal was supposed to end this year.
By extending the deal, Sandy won't have to come up with that $300,000, leaving Sandy free to "shift its funds" to other projects, like the $110 million stadium for Real Salt Lake, Salt Lake County Councilman David Wilde said.
"It's not money that we are giving toward the stadium," Wilde said. "We're giving money toward an amphitheater. Again, I guess there is sort of a wink and a nod saying if you guys in Sandy want to somehow rearrange your funds and somehow give it to the stadium, that's OK."
Make no mistake, the $300,000 from the county cannot be used for the stadium. The county's interlocal agreement with Sandy will make sure of that, County Council Chairman Michael Jensen said.
But the county's agreement can't stop Sandy from moving other funds around and possibly using some of them for Real Salt Lake's stadium.
"I know enough about budgeting that I know that is probably something that could happen," Councilman Joe Hatch said. "However, that's a decision for the elected officials of Sandy."
A spokeswoman for Sandy said if there happens to be extra money which she's not even sure will happen leaders still don't know how they'll spend it.
But the county could have an ulterior motive to helping Sandy out with funding woes. Wilde said if the county agreed to play nice, legislative leadership would give some extra money for road funding.
"I personally felt like I'm OK with that trade if we can get money to help with the roads," Wilde said. "I'm happy to get more money to Sandy."
Wilde's council colleagues said there was no such quid pro quo.
Jensen said a bunch of issues like the Oxbow Jail, the restaurant tax, road funding and the soccer stadium were all discussed in one big meeting, and none of them is tied to the others.
Salt Lake County Mayor Peter Corroon said his decision to extend the amphitheater funding has nothing to do with the stadium.
To him, it's about kissing and making up with Sandy leaders, who have borne the brunt of recent criticism from county leaders.
"We're trying to extend an olive branch out to Sandy to say maybe we don't support some of the projects you're doing, but we do overall support Sandy city," Corroon said.
And the amphitheater, which hosts multiple concerts and musicals throughout the year, fits into the county's overall vision for arts scattered across the county.
Corroon is hesitant to give any more money to the $110 million soccer stadium. The state already forced county leaders to use $35 million in hotel-room tax dollars to pay for public infrastructure on the facility.
Sandy wanted to raise $10 million through a community development agency, but that takes the cooperation of all the taxing entities in the area. And cooperation is hard to come by.
Salt Lake County refuses to join in the CDA, and Jordan School District officials have already made it clear that they will not forgo their cut of property tax dollars for the multimillion-dollar stadium.
"I don't feel that it is in the best interest to contribute more revenue to the project," Corroon wrote in a letter earlier this week to Randy Sant, Sandy's economic development director.
Corroon believes the stadium is an "unsafe investment" of taxpayer dollars.
A new study by the University of Utah Center of Public Policy and Administration says sports stadiums have not shown significant positive impact on local economies.
"In fact, a sports franchise has about the same scale of economic effect as a large grocery store," according to the study, which was released Wednesday.However, quality-of-life issues may justify continued public financing, according to the study.
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