SANDY — The parking plan for a major league soccer stadium in Sandy boasts more than enough spaces.

A close look at the plan, though, shows that Real officials are relying on free public parking and fans' willingness to walk several blocks.

Real Salt Lake officials say the proposal is environmentally friendly because it avoids paving new lots. Fans will instead be asked to park on grassy fields or in existing lots — a practice known as "cross-utilization."

According to a Sandy development plan signed by both parties in June 2007, Real must provide at least 5,300 parking stalls for its 20,000 fans in order to receive public funding and building certificates.

The funding is already under way, but final permits haven't been issued.

Tonight, Real officials will give the Sandy Planning Commission their plan for more than 6,000 available spaces. Some of those spaces are at the stadium site and others are nearby in grassy fields, which Real plans to use for county-fair-style parking.

In the future, buildings could be constructed on the green space, said Real spokesman Trey Fitz-Gerald.

Real is leasing other parking stalls from nearby businesses. Some of those businesses will manage lots and could charge any amount. Others will be managed by Real, with parking at $3-$5 per event.

Free shuttles will pick up fans unable or unwilling to walk the 15-20 minutes to the stadium.

Real has also reached an agreement with the South Towne Expo Center, which sits across the street from the stadium. Some 1,000 of the 1,540 stalls at the center will be available for Real guests, and most of those will be saved for season ticket holders, club members and sponsors, officials said.

Expo Center vendors will be able to overflow into stadium parking when it's not being used for events, according to the plan.

The rest of the parking is expected to be on Jordan School District land and land owned by the Utah Transit Authority, the Utah Department of Transportation and the city of Sandy.

The school district property is being made available on a per-event basis. The 1,500 stalls will be rented unless they are needed for educational purposes, said district physical facilities manager John Taylor. Since games are usually held during summer months on Friday and Saturday nights, conflicting schedules are unlikely.

Taylor expects only one or two conflicts annually.

The school district will get revenue for renting the spaces, for which fans will be charged.

The final piece of the puzzle is free public parking, without which the plan falls far short of the required 5,300 spots. Neither UDOT nor UTA plan to give preferential treatment to soccer fans, representatives for the organizations said.

And the city of Sandy doesn't have a parking management plan, though the City Council could vote to institute one.

But commuters and city officials won't need that parking on weekends, Fitz-Gerald said.

"Basically, most of the events at the stadium are going to take place at 7 o'clock in the evening or on Saturday, which is kind of the opposite of when most of those TRAX spaces are used," he said. The cross-utilization will create synergy for the area, he said.

The city has provisions that allow developers to use off-site parking when large events are held rarely, said Sandy spokesman Nick Duerkson. The Expo Center and Sandy Amphitheater have similar parking arrangements.

"Rather than make them build seas of parking lots that stay empty, the provision requires them to work with other property owners," Duerkson said.

Fans will not be allowed to park in neighborhoods. Real is willing to enforce those rules with blockades and attendants if necessary.

"I think they've stepped up pretty well," said Sandy City Council member Scott Cowdell, who represents the stadium neighborhood. "It's a pretty legitimate plan."

Cowdell added that if problems arise, the city will force the soccer franchise to find solutions.

"It's a good day," said Real president Bill Manning. "We're very pleased with the parking plan. It works for us, for the city and the public. We're pleased to exceed expectations."


E-mail: rpalmer@desnews.com