The owner of Real Salt Lake approached the Utah State Fairpark Board on Wednesday with more information about building a new soccer stadium on the fairgrounds, but no decision was made.
"We're ready to move virtually immediately," Real Salt Lake owner Dell Loy Hansen told the board, adding that he would pay all construction costs, estimated at up to $18 million.
"This will be a straight-up commercial deal, in our mind, that benefits the park," he told the board. "We want to give back."
Hansen said the 8,000-seat stadium would house the Real Monarchs, a United Soccer League team for players ages 17-23 who need more playing time and training before advancing to the professional level.
Hansen said he also hopes to create a community gathering place and help revitalize the Fairpark.
Chairman Roger Beattie said the board has an agreement to negotiate and work with Real Salt Lake to ultimately come an official agreement. The discussions are exciting for soccer fans in the state, Beattie said, but he compared it to running in the dark.
"It's a lot of fun until you hit a tree," he said. "There's a lot of work that has to be done behind the scenes right now, a lot of analysis. But at this juncture, everybody is excited to proceed and hoping that everything will work out well."
Both Hansen and Beattie said they hope to have a plan in place by the end of the year.
"Our timeline has to do mostly with Real Salt Lake and the need to start to get into the ground so the stadium would be ready in 2016," Beattie said. "I would hope that certainly by the conclusion of this year this is all finalized and everything is signed, sealed, delivered, and we're waiting to break ground."
Hansen said another factor in the timeline is what lawmakers decide to do with the fairgrounds and if the Utah State Fair should stay at it's current location.
"They have to extend the lease to the (Fairpark board) or we wouldn't have anything that we could count on to lease against," Hansen said.
Beattie said the board will meet again at the end of the week and once a month when the fair ends. He said there will be "a significant number of meetings" before anything is formally decided.
Ultimately, Beattie said the board wants to see the community re-energize, keep up the history of the park, while improving it through a relationship with Real Salt Lake.
If the board decides the stadium brings that to the park, it would move forward with the project, Beattie said.
"The board, at this point, does not see why we cannot come to an agreement that would be mutually beneficial for everyone involved," he said.
In his presentation, Hansen said the direct estimated revenues of the stadium would be between $575,000 and $875,000. Real Salt Lake would pay a ground lease of $10,000, and the rest of the money would be generated from parking and concert event revenue.
Hansen said Real Salt Lake and the Fairpark would split parking revenue, except during the Utah State Fair, when all money would go to the Fairpark, as well as full use of the stadium.
"Basically, we'll build a stadium and essentially give it to the ground," he said.
Hansen said Real Salt Lake will use the stadium for the next 40 years, with the possibility of a 10-year extension, and then the stadium would belong to the Fairpark.
Hansen said he hopes to build a youth-oriented and energetic fan base with the presence of the Real Monarchs.
The Monarchs will start playing next year at Rio Tinto Stadium stadium in Sandy, with hopes of moving to the fairgrounds in 2016.
"These players will be exciting to watch," Hansen said. "And that's what this is about, is building aspirational soccer for the youth."
Other plans for the stadium would be a women's pro team, an amateur men's team, rugby and lacrosse leagues and youth camps.
Beattie said the stadium would be built straight out from the grandstand toward the road. It wouldn't negatively impact any of the 13 historical buildings on site, but it would affect about 400 parking spaces, he said.
Beattie said with TRAX and parking across from the fairgrounds, he's not worried about parking. If there isn't enough, they could consider building a parking structure.