Thursday, February 23, 2006

Will Real Salt Lake give up beer for $41 million?

The public funding portion of Real Salt Lake's stadium in Sandy has hit another snag.

The team's owner Dave Checketts has asked for a combined $41 million in support from the public sector. The majority of this money, $34 million, would come from a 1.25% tax on local hotels. The remaining $7 million would come from property taxes collected at the Sandy site by both the city and the county under recently reformed redevelopment terms.

The total cost of the stadium, hotel and broadcast facilities will be $145 million. Real will pick up the tab for the remaining $104 million.

However, there is a little bit of a snag in regards to the public funding.

HB371, which allows the county to collect an extra 1.25 percent hotel tax for the stadium project beyond a 2016 sunset, passed the House on Tuesday by a 47-28 vote. But the bill, which still must clear the Senate, faced a near-fatal amendment and 21 dissenting votes from the GOP.

Whatever this added amendment might be, it seems design specifically to kill this bill. Without this bill, it will be very difficult for Real to get any sort of public funding beyond property tax breaks.

So what can Checketts do to gain some favor with the state GOP? How about banning the sale of alcohol in the stadium. For those who don't know, most Mormons do not approve of the consumption of alcohol and Utah is the home of the religion. Checketts says,”It has nothing to do with religion. I don't want to sell beer at the stadium."

Since beer sales constitute a significant revenue stream, he thinks this, "...should convince people how committed I am to making this work and having good community entertainment. If there's a place in the country where this is possible, it's probably here."

He is right, if there is one place this idea might just fly, it is Utah, I just don't think it will change enough legislators minds to get his bill passed. I also wonder how strange it would be to have beer advertising along the sidelines (as MLS sponsors), but not sell the product in the stadium.



Post a Comment

<< Home