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Lease extension for Fair Park in doubt, Monarchs stadium plan in jeopardy

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Courtesy of the Utah State Fair Park

Real Monarchs' stadium hopes are being put through the wringer in the Utah State Legislature, with a vital proposal having trouble making it out of committee.

The Salt Lake Tribune reported today that the potential lease extension for the Utah State Fair Park is in doubt, with the Natural Resources committee Utah House rejecting a proposal to extend the lease up to the permissible 50 years. The Senate, however, did approve the proposal, so it's not as if this is a particularly one-sided issue.

In fact, it's the two-sided nature of this that makes it difficult. Some are apparently concerned about the Monarchs stadium, saying it skirts a normal proposal process. If that's the case, I haven't seen those processes outlined in the documents setting up the lease agreements.

It's not particularly unusual to see that sort of pushback in the financially conservative state legislature, but it's the sort of issue that could significantly stall Monarchs options. The Fair Park board, for their part, have indicated that it's an opportunity that could disappear if the legislature tries to delay it — and Dell Loy Hansen's financial position and land ownership gives him plenty of opportunities to explore other options.

That some legislators are concerned about whether it's a good deal for the park is interesting: After all, it's one that comes with an annual lease payment from Real Salt Lake, as well as a fully privately funded stadium that would become the state's after 40 years. In addition to the lease, the state would also receive parking revenue estimated at $100,000 yearly, which seems realistic. One of the issues the Fair Park Board has been tasked with is the rather dismal parking situation, and this deal would improve that significantly.

It's both not surprising and a little concerning that there's as much pushback as there is at this point, but the legislative process is just kicking into gear. Don't be surprised if this is far from the latest twist in the tale. And hey, if you want, contact your local legislators if you think this is a particularly important thing to the state. (Don't ask me, though. If I'm being honest, I'm entirely too selfish and really just want to watch more soccer).