Legislature wants lease policy after Utah Fairpark-Real Salt Lake deal fails


by Chris Larson
Capital West News

After the state missed out on the chance to sublease the Utah State Fairpark grounds to Real Salt Lake, a committee unanimously passed a bill that would give lawmakers more oversight of long-term Fairpark leases.

“It’s not meant to control or take power away from the Division (DFCM) or State Fairpark Board,” Rep. Gage Froerer, R–Huntsville, said, “It’s meant to give the proper direction. . . and we have more than just two entities that I feel should have oversight by the Legislature in some form same because we do that for all buildings, both leases ad build projects. “

Froerer presented HB430 to the House Natural Resources, Agriculture, and Environment Committee.  It would require DFCM to get the approval of the State Building Board, the Legislative Management Committee, and the Infrastructure and General Government Appropriations Subcommittee before the DFCM signs the lease of the State Fair property to the State Fair Park Corp.

It would also require that the State Fair Park Corp. to send subleases over 10 year to Legislative Management Committee and the Infrastructure and General Government Appropriations Subcommittee for recommendations.

Subleases under 10 year require no other approvals.

Randy Parker, State Fairpark Board of directors member, challenged the assumption that power was being taken away from the State Fair Corp.

“I would disagree with sponsor in that this dramatically changes what the statutory board appointed by the governor and what its obligations are,” Parker said in committee. “As I look at this, it dramatically changes our process as a statutory board to an advisory board.”

Parker said after the meeting that no other major developers have approached the State Fair about possible developments and attributes the lack of clarity on the status of the fair that the inability of the Fair to court potential partners. Parker said that they worked with Real Salt Lake for a year and was hindered in the negotiations because of the inability to offer substantial subleases.

“This will make it more difficult for private organizations and industries to come in and say, ‘We are interested in investing with you,’ and bring their money and allow us to work as a statutory board in the best interest of the fair,” Parker said.

Parker did express hope for the future in that coverage of the State Fairpark would show that there is a place for developers and investors in the park.

Rep. Sandra Hollins, D–Salt Lake City, feels the same way.

“I am hopeful that the Legislature and the governor will be able to come to an agreement that we can all live with, something that will benefit my community and something that will keep the fair in my community,” Hollins said.

Hollins represent the district that includes the fairpark.

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