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Thursday, February 26, 2015

Monarchs say Fairpark deal is dead, team looking for new stadium location


(by Jasen Lee deseretnews.com 2-26-15)

Any chance of salvaging what seemed like a mutually beneficial agreement to develop a new soccer stadium at the state fairgrounds is gone.

A top executive for the Real Monarchs soccer club said the team is moving on from that deal in search of a new site that will be suitable for the team's needs.

“We’re officially done with that deal,” Monarchs president Rob Zarkos said. “We closed the door on that (Wednesday).”

The tediousness of the political process moved far too slowly for the team to be able to meet its development needs, Zarkos said.

“When we originally talked, we thought we would be able to get into the ground and start developing, but that’s been completely blown out the window with the political process,” he said. “The process and timing just doesn’t work for what we need to do to get a stadium built and move our programs ahead.”

On Wednesday, Real Salt Lake owner Dell Loy Hansen notified Utah State Fairpark administrators that the club has rescinded its January proposal for the stadium development at the fairgrounds.
Last month, Hansen announced his intention to build an $18 million, 8,000-seat stadium at the Fairpark, with the stadium to serve as the future home of the Real Monarchs.

In an effort to expedite the stadium's development, Hansen agreed to pay the entire cost of construction, contingent on the state of Utah extending the Fairpark's lease on the fairgrounds for an additional 40 years.

A Fairpark board member said the only major hurdle to construction of the new stadium was the extension of the lease, which is set to expire in 2017.

But legislative wrangling has caused the team to pull out of the deal, Zarkos said, noting that at the current pace, development would not be able to begin for at least another 18 months. The team hopes to begin construction on a facility later this summer.

Zarkos said the team would now focus on finding a new site to build a stadium to house the franchise, which begins play this season in the USL PRO division.

“We’ve had several different municipalities contact us, but we don’t have anything lined up,” he said. “We’re literally working by the hour trying to figure out what we’re going to do and where we’re going to go.”

The team would prefer a Salt Lake-area location for their stadium, Zarkos said. He voiced disappointment about the dissolution of the proposed Fairpark project, noting it was a seemingly ideal situation.

“It’s too bad and unfortunate that we just couldn’t make it work,” Zarkos said. “We’re just really looking at all options now.”

State lawmakers are still in the process of figuring out the lease issue. Until that matter is resolved, no other deal can formally take place at the Fairpark.

Meanwhile, the State Fairpark Corp. — an independent nonprofit public corporation created in the 2011 legislative session as an entity outside of state government to pursue profitable ventures for the site — will continue its search for a new project or consider options for relocating the state fair.

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