A major expansion of the Salt Palace convention complex may be a good thing - but it shouldn't involve moving the Utah State Fair, the Fair Board maintains.
Such a proposal, recently unveiled by city, county and state convention and tourism officials, is untenable, according to the seven-member policy-making body, which voted to oppose such a move."We object because the county would be usurping a state function," said board member William R. Shaw. "It is ludicrous to think that they could house a function such as the State Fair that has been planned here (at the fairgrounds) and move it to a complex built specifically for other activities,"
Shaw whose motion to oppose the action was unanimously supported by four other board members pres-ent for a meeting at the fairgrounds, termed the proposal a "great, grand scheme."
Board chairman Douglas G. Bischoff said it appears promoters of the Salt Palace are "using the sentiment that has been generated by the Jazz to get not only an expanded arena but to expand the entire Salt Palace."
He said proponents are using the same arguments used three previous times in saying they need expanded facilities to attract larger conventions.
"It doesn't make good sense to those of us who understand what facilities are needed for a state fair. The Salt Palace is fine for a lot of things," but it doesn't meet the needs of a state fair, Bischoff said.
Paul H. Taylor, Provo, said the board should vigorously oppose such a move. He said it is ridiculous to think that experiences traditionally gained from having the State Fair at its present location in northwest Salt Lake City could be duplicated at a downtown complex.
Dean Smith, Logan, another board member, called the idea "stupid" and not worth much worrying about. Cleo Atkin, St. George, who also is a member of the State Fair Foundation, said facetiously that the latter group had decided the Utah Jazz should have a much longer winning record before pushing for a facility larger than the Salt Palace.
Fair Director Jackie Nokes said the fair has been held at its present location at 10th West and North Temple since 1905.
"Our FairPark has 26 historic buildings listed with the national Register of Historic Places. These buildings were constructed for the sole purpose of showcasing agriculture, livestock (and) mining, industrial, artistic, homemaking skills and the youth of Utah.
"Utah is a state presenting many opportunities for many people, and to believe that everything has to take place in a four-block square area downtown is myopic . . . Gov. Bangerter is very much in favor of keeping the State Fair separate and apart so that it can better serve the people of Utah - better parking facilities and beautiful open spaces. (It's) a great setting, near the Jordan River Parkway, to hold Utah's biggest annual event," Nokes said in a prepared statement.
The board also discussed fair officials' efforts to find documents to support a claim that a deed to the present fairgrounds property included a provision that if the grounds were ever used for other purposes that the land would be returned to the family that donated it.
Nokes said she and her staff have been checking old ledger books and state files.
"We can't seem to find those restrictions, yet the family (whose relatives donated the land) claims that there definitely are restrictions. But we haven't found them yet," Nokes told the board.
Alice Shearer, deputy director of the Utah Department of Community and Economic Development, said she understood that the state would be represented on two of three task forces appointed by Salt Lake County to study the proposal for an expanded Salt Palace convention complex.
No one has been designated to be a State Fair representative. Salt Lake County Commissioner Bart Barker is very sensitive to the issues involved, she said.
Salt Lake County cannot - even if it wants - take over the fairgrounds, Shearer noted.
Shaw said he hopes State Fair officials can be represented and "not find out after the fact about what's happening."