Fairpark Future Poised for Legislature Action

This last year, Fairpark Community residents played a significant role in a study on the possible future of the Utah State Fairpark. What was the best use for this property? Should it be offices or other commercial development? Or should the State invest in upgrading the existing fair grounds to create a successful venue for the Utah State Fair and other events?

Utah_State_Fairgrounds_entranceAs the study progressed, what did become evident to residents was that, regardless of the study’s final recommendations, the final decisions on the future of the Utah State Fairpark rest with the Utah State Legislature.

Michael Steele, executive director of the Utah State Fair, states that the future of the Fair, and the Utah Fairpark, are on the table for Legislative action this year.

Steele reports that the proposed agreement for the REAL Salt Lake to build a soccer stadium, costing between $23 and $24 million, on the Fairpark property is moving ahead, with an agreement of “terms” being brought before the Utah State Fair Board of Directors for a vote this week.

Steele emphasizes that the new stadium will not require any tax-payer money.

But what will it require?

Steele states that the Utah Legislature should return the White Ball Field to the Fair’s lease with the State. “REAL Salt Lake cannot consider building a soccer stadium in the Fairpark without the parking space offered by the White Ball Field across North Temple from the Fairpark.”

But the lease is much bigger – for years, the Utah Legislature has limited the State’s lease with the Utah Fair to one or two years. For REAL Salt Lake to make a long-term commitment, “We need to have a 40 year lease with the State.”

Front_of_the_Utah_State_Capitol_in_May_2008The Utah State Fair is also approaching the Legislature for its long-time $675,000 allocation to cover the Fair’s ongoing expenses. “This represents less than 20% of our operating budget; most of our funding comes from the State Fair and other events here at the Fairpark.”

Any other plans? Steele states that they are also approaching the Legislature to fund a study and development of an initial design to expand, and complete, the Fairpark’s rodeo stadium. “In the last several years, we have two master-plan studies that state the completion of the rodeo grounds as being instrumental to the future of the Fairpark. We need to move ahead on this.”