SANDY The $110 million Real Soccer Stadium will host its first game Oct. 9, but city officials and project management say the structure won't be completely finished in time.
Real may have to hire Sandy city firefighters to stand at various places throughout the stadium during the first and second games. The firefighters will watch for fires and help people leave in the event of an emergency because fire notification and suppression systems may not be complete, stadium project manager Mike Steel said.
"All of the things that would be necessary for any event to be held there, from a life/safety point of view, will be completed, except for the use of a fire watch system," agreed Sandy spokesman Nick Duerkson.
The team is required to hold its Oct. 9 game against the New York Red Bulls in Sandy due to a contract with ESPN. If the team goes into playoffs, firefighters could be hired to stand guard through the end of the season.
In addition to the fire and electric system, parts of the stadium's south end may be unfinished by October, officials said. Fans may have to do without rest rooms and concessions in the temporary stage area. Staff offices, a team room for selling memorabilia, some suites and the speaker system are also unlikely to be finished in time.
"We could live without them," Steele said. "Everything's going really well. We're cranking right along."
The two construction teams working on the stadium were able to push through a long, hard winter and are on schedule, he said.
"They have given us the ability to consider holding an event here in October," he said.
Two teams from Sandy are working closely with Real to ensure a certificate of occupancy can be issued in time. Finishing touches on public safety and parking plans are under way. The groups plan to meet every other week through October.
Meanwhile, public financing for Real is all but complete. The Sandy City Council, acting both on its own behalf and as a redevelopment agency, signed off on the remaining $10 million in the $45 million public funding package. The meeting was a public hearing, but no residents showed up to comment.
The public financing agreement has many safeguards for taxpayers, said Randy Sant, Sandy economic development director. For example, the soccer team can only be sold to a party willing to take on all parts of the agreement. Also, Real Salt Lake owners can't get out of the agreement by bankruptcy or financial hardship. They also can't move the team without refunding the public money used to construct the stadium.
"It's a better agreement than any other public stadium we've seen," Sant said.
The Community Development Agreement agreed to by the Sandy Council Tuesday assumes that property values will increase as a result of the stadium being built. Sandy's share of taxes garnered from the increase in property value will be diverted and used to make payments on $11.2 million in bonds. The $10 million in proceeds will be given to Real for land acquisition, infrastructure construction, parking, landscaping and other improvements. The agreement will be in place for 20 years.
Taxing entities such as Salt Lake County and Jordan School District will not forego their share of Real property taxes under the agreement, though small agencies such as the mosquito abatement district and water district likely will. State law requires that each taxing entity opt-in to community development agreements.
The bonds will be paid by energy and telecommunications franchise taxes if the property value of the stadium fails to increase as planned. If property value increases quickly, the bond could also be paid off early. If it is, any tax increment money from the stadium area would go to a redevelopment agency fund.
The Real tax increment fund could raise $110 million over the 20 years, financial adviser Jason Burningham told the city.In response to word that the county planned not to opt-in to the CDA, city officials worked out a plan to borrow money from other tax increment funding projects in the city. The proposal, rife with unknowns, will work even in a worst-case scenario, said Sandy chief administrative officer Byron Jorgenson.