SALT LAKE CITY — As Utahns flock to the Utah State Fair next week, they will see a new arena under construction. But they apparently aren't big on the state spending $10 million to build what will be the new home to the Days of '47 Rodeo.
Only 47 percent of residents support using taxpayer dollars for the project Utah lawmakers approved in July, according to a UtahPolicy.com poll released Tuesday. The Dan Jones & Associates survey also shows 36 percent oppose the expenditure, and 17 percent don't know.
The 10,000-seat open-air arena is estimated to cost $17 million, including $3 million from The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, $2 million from Salt Lake County, $1 million from Salt Lake City and other private donations.
The deal came together quickly and construction began immediately to have the stadium ready next July for the annual rodeo, which is being displaced by remodeling of the Vivint Smart Home Arena.
Sen. Luz Escamilla, D-Salt Lake City, said there are always competing interests for tax money, but this is one of the best investments the state has made during her time in the Legislature. Her district includes the Fairpark.
"We are going to own a state facility that costs $17 million with a $10 million investment," she said.
The multipurpose arena, which could host a variety of events during the year, would bring revenue to repair long-neglected structures at the fairgrounds, Escamilla said. It would also help revitalize Salt Lake City's west side and help keep the Fairpark as a "jewel" of the state, she said.
"People in that area want the Fairpark. They want everything that comes with that," Escamilla said.
Construction of the new stadium will preclude a rodeo and other arena events this year at the state fair, which runs Sept. 8-18.
The project won bipartisan approval in the Republican-controlled Utah Legislature.9 comments on this story
The poll found support nearly even among Utahns who identified themselves as Republicans and Democrats at 48 percent and 47 percent, respectively. Support among political independents came in at 45 percent.
Jones surveyed 858 residents from July 18 to Aug. 4. The poll has a margin of error of plus or minus 3.34 percent.
In 2015, plans for an $18 million minor league soccer stadium at the Fairpark fell apart when lawmakers could not reach an agreement on the issue. Real Salt Lake owner Dell Loy Hansen took the project to West Valley City.