Chelsey Allder, Deseret News
FILE Aerial views of the Utah State Fairpark in Salt Lake City Friday, Feb. 13, 2015. State and local leaders will break ground Thursday for the new Utah State Fairpark arena as the 2016 edition of the Utah State Fair opens.

SALT LAKE CITY — State and local leaders will break ground Thursday for the new Utah State Fairpark arena as the 2016 edition of the Utah State Fair opens.

Gov. Gary Herbert, Salt Lake County Mayor Ben McAdams and a representative from the Presiding Bishopric of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints are among those scheduled to attend the 6 p.m. ceremony.

"The new arena will be a key element in the Fairpark’s success for years to come and spur additional improvements at the Fairpark," said Roger Beattie, chairman of the Fairpark board.

Work on the stadium started shortly after the Utah Legislature in July approved $10 million in taxpayers funds for the project, estimated to cost $17 million. The LDS Church contributed $3 million, while Salt Lake County, Salt Lake City and other donors will make up the rest.

The groundbreaking coincides with the opening day of the State Fair, which runs through Sept. 18.

The new arena will host the Days of ’47 Rodeo every July as well as other events during the year, including a variety of equine events and a rodeo during the fair. Those events will not be held at the fair this year due to the construction.

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Sen. Luz Escamilla, D-Salt Lake City, whose district includes the fairgrounds, said she's excited for the project that was 20 years in the making.

"Our community is looking forward to the economic development opportunity at the fairpark from this private-public investment. This arena will elevate the Fairpark to be a crown jewel in our city and our state," she said.

The 65-acre park includes 25 buildings, a food court, an outdoor arena, a grandstand and equestrian facilities. Thirteen of the buildings are on the Utah state historic register.

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