The Utah House Thursday passed 1SHB38 by a 48-24 margin, effectively approving $35 million towards the development of a world-class sports and entertainment venue which will serve as the home of Real Salt Lake.
The bill directs $20 million of previously approved TRT funds, set aside in 2005 to build a parking structure for the South Towne Expo Center, and an additional $15 million for the purchase of land and public infrastructure.
"All of us at Major League Soccer would like to sincerely thank Governor Huntsman and the Utah state legislature for their support of soccer in the Salt Lake City area," said MLS commissioner Don Garber. "The new stadium will be a world-class venue that will host countless memorable soccer moments, provide a key meeting place for the community, and shed an international spotlight on the region."
On Tuesday, Utah Governor Jon M. Huntsman called on the Legislature to Save Utah Soccer, issuing the following statement:
"It is important for everyone to understand the proposal at hand: we are not building a stadium with State taxpayer money. This is an economic development investment in valuable property and a valuable community asset," Governor Huntsman said. "The transient room tax (TRT) is placed on hotel rooms and rental cars, paid by visitors to Salt Lake County and used to help fund tourist-related resources and facilities. This plan uses just 15 percent of that tax, while the rest is dedicated to other Salt Lake County projects."
"Real Salt Lake has become a proud part of our community and it is imperative for the Legislature to act now in order to keep this tremendous asset here in Utah," Governor Huntsman continued. "I urge the Senate to amend 1SHB 38 to extend the transient room tax sunset to buy land in Sandy, and the House to concur, in order to honor the commitments made to ReAL and Utah. We must work together to make this a reality.
"This project will enhance our quality of life, especially for the hundreds of thousands of Utah youth who play soccer."
Later that day, the Utah Senate voted 20-8, with one abstention, to pass the bill on to the House, which approved the legislation at 3:15 p.m. MT today.