It’s do or die for the Utah State Fairpark

Posted at 11:31 AM, Feb 06, 2015

SALT LAKE CITY -- The future of the Utah State Fairpark is in the hands of state lawmakers.

Representatives of the Utah State Fair briefed lawmakers on Friday on a pending deal for a Real Monarchs minor league soccer stadium, as well as asking for nearly $700,000 in taxpayer money to keep the fairpark afloat. Aging structures and years without proper funding have hurt the grounds.

"We do not have the luxury of kicking this can further down the road," said Roger Beattie, the chairman of the board for the Utah State Fairpark.

The Utah State Fair itself makes money, but it needs to generate revenue the rest of the year. Real Salt Lake is proposing to build a $23 million stadium for its minor league team, Real Monarchs. It is projected to make at least $3 million each year. The fairpark grounds have previously lost out on a children's museum and an aquarium in development.

The stadium would be privately funded, Beattie told lawmakers. But they still need taxpayer money for the rest of the grounds -- including $675,000 in operations and another $100,000 to look at building an exhibition building and existing rodeo grounds.

Lawmakers had many questions about the future of the Utah State Fair.

"The status quo is pretty unacceptable," said Sen. Jim Dabakis, D-Salt Lake City, who said it was time to decide if Utah kept its state fair or got rid of it.

The legislative appropriations committee approved a plan to study the deal with Real Salt Lake. Beattie told FOX 13 they have until April 23 to renew the lease -- or they risk losing it.