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SALT LAKE CITY — After an audit determined the Utah State Fair was the “most under-attended and highly subsidized state fair among comparable intermountain states,” the State Building Board has looked a number of solutions, most recently including the option of adding a minor-league soccer stadium.
Friday, the Utah State Fairpark Board of Directors announced a proposal from Real Salt Lake owner Dell Loy Hansen to add a multi-use sports stadium to the fair park in addition to constructing an exposition building and improving and expanding rodeo grounds. The proposal would keep the fairgrounds in use year-round.
The stadium would seat between 5,000 and 8,000 spectators and would act as home field for Real Salt Lake’s minor league affiliate.
Other proposals for the fair’s future include:
- Keeping the fair running, costing about $33 million
- Upgrading the current location, costing $47 million
- Moving the fair to a rural site and rebuilding, which would cost $160 million
- Selling the land for retail or office space, which would make about $18 million
“We thoroughly reviewed the study and it is our position that investing in the fair park is the most economically and culturally prudent approach to ensure the Utah State Fair and the fair park continue to contribute to the community for future generations,” said Roger Beattie, chairman of the board of Utah State Fairpark Board of Directors. “Construction of an exposition building, improving and expanding the rodeo grounds, and adding a multi-use sports stadium to the fair park would be strong assets to the fair park’s success; and we are pleased to announce that a proposal for the stadium has already been received.”
In March, the Utah State Auditor released a report showing that in the last decade, the Utah State Fair Corp. received an average of $757,000 annually from the state Legislature. Additionally, the fair received indirect subsidies in the form of a low-cost lease on the fair park lands.
Since then, fair directors have urged officials and Utahns to support the annual fair.
“The Utah State Fairpark Board of Directors urges the State of Utah to invest in the Fairpark to preserve this invaluable economic and cultural resource and allow the Utah State Fair to become self-sufficient as mandated by the state,” Beattie said.