controversial deal for a Sandy soccer stadium is dead.
Salt Lake County Mayor Peter Corroon said he told Real Salt Lake
owner Dave Checketts on Monday morning he is unwilling to funnel $30
million in old and new hotel taxes toward the $110 million stadium
"It was tough," said Corroon, an RSL season-ticket holder. "If
anybody wanted this to work, it was me."
Checketts told Corroon he now intends to sell the team.
"He said he would have a buyer by Friday," Corroon said.
The news caused a frenzy on Utah's Capitol Hill, where Corroon
shuttled between meetings with House Speaker Greg Curtis, R-Sandy,
and Gov. Jon Huntsman Jr. to deliver the news.
Sandy Mayor Tom Dolan, who also was at the Capitol, said he learned
of the decision from reporters. Dolan said he was not surprised.
"I am sorry there is no vision in Salt Lake County," he said.
Dolan said the project would have been good for the county. The
move "unfortunately" sends the signal that the county cannot handle
major-league sports," Dolan said.
"That's to the detriment of the entire community," he said.
At a late-morning news conference, Corroon insisted the move is not
about the popularity of soccer in Utah. Instead, he emphasized the
county's responsibility to protect taxpayers, calling the stadium
project an "unsafe investment."
"We were gambling with taxpayer dollars," the county mayor said.
"It just didn't make sense."
Last Friday, Corroon received a negative recommendation to fund the
project from the county's Debt Review Committee by a 4-0 vote. That
followed an independent consultant's report that suggested the team's
projections were overly optimistic. It also predicted RSL could not
pay all its debt.
Based on that analysis, which Corroon noted was always a condition
of approval, the mayor made up his mind.
"As far as I'm concerned," he said. "We're done."
County insiders say the conversation between Corroon and Checketts
turned testy earlier in the morning. Afterward, Checketts announced
on KSL Radio's "Doug Wright Show" that the deal was dead and he would
sell the team.