(KCPW News) It took more than five years for Salt Lake City to agree to issue bonds for the Leonardo that were approved by voters in 2003. But a $15.3 million bond measure on that same ballot is still waiting in the wings: the 180-acre sports complex in northwest Salt Lake City. Mayor Ralph Becker says it's still a great idea, but skyrocketing cost estimates nearly buried the project.
"When I came into office, I think the entire effort was really in jeopardy, whether or not we could go forward at all, or go forward with anything close to what the public envisioned," Becker says.
Becker's administration has been working for the past year to redevelop the financing for the project. His staff has been honing in on the details of the design to better gauge the cost. And Becker's hired a consultant who's familiar with the sports industry, former Utah Jazz president Dennis Haslam.
Haslam says the city is currently negotiating with a potential funding partner, but it's premature to give any details. He says partnering with Salt Lake County remains on the table, and the city also is thumbing through the massive American Recovery and Reinvestment Act for potential federal stimulus funds. So far they haven't found anything, but Haslam remains positive about the project's future.
"We've made an enormous amount of progress in the last 12 months and I'm optimistic that things will come together soon," Haslam says.
The sports complex could be split into two phases, Haslam says. The first could be financed with available funds. It would still include soccer fields and baseball and softball diamonds, but fewer than originally proposed.