Expo Center could help, benefit from Sandy plans
Knowing Sandy city has grandiose long-term plans for its central core, Salt Lake County officials want to ensure their South Towne Exposition Center adds value to the project and shares its benefits, too.
And so a committee of county council members examining the importance of the convention industry to Salt Lake County invited Sandy officials to their meeting Tuesday, looking to make sure all were well acquainted with the current thinking.
"We need to understand how we can help each other," said Councilman Max Burdick, chairman of the convention subcommittee and a former member of Sandy's Planning Commission.
The Exposition Center is on the northeastern end of Sandy's evolving downtown core district, which extends from 9000 South to 10600 South between the TRAX line and Interstate 15.
It consistently draws about 700,000 visitors annually, said Dan Hayes, general manager of the Exposition Center and the Salt Palace Convention Center in downtown Salt Lake City.
Many come for public shows, such as the International Sportsmen's Exposition or AutoRama, or regularly held meetings like those for Mary Kay cosmetic sales people. Still more come from near and far for youth sports tournaments, which can fill the Exposition Center's 243,000 square feet of exhibit space with basketball hoops and volleyball nets.
For sports events in particular, Hayes said, almost one-third of visitors spend a night in a local motel, almost all eat at least one meal a day at a restaurant and three-quarters engage in some shopping.
All in all, he said the Exposition Center's economic impact in the Sandy area was about $12.25 million a year.
Sandy appreciates that impact, said Mayor Tom Dolan, calling the Exposition Center a "great asset" for all the side business the city picks up from events held there.
He and the city's master plan consultant, Peter Pillman of IBI Group, then described how proposed plans to develop more restaurants, hotels and rentable condo-type units in the city's core area would make the Exposition Center more attractive as a host of multiple-day events tied into the rest of the area with pedestrian/cycling trails and a rail line connecting TRAX and FrontRunner.
"Add in the Utah Sports Commission," Dolan said, referring to the quasi-state agency that brings regional and national sporting events to Utah, "and there are some events we could be seeking that would bring a lot of families, a lot of kids to the area."
Dolan also said the master plan envisions Sandy's core as being a hub for a TRAX line that, one day, will follow 9400 South up through Little Cottonwood Canyon and then on to Park City, helping to interconnect the seven ski areas of the central Wasatch Front.
"What kind of events could you hold at South Towne Exposition Center around that?" he asked rhetorically.