The Salt Lake Organizing Committee will spend $200,000 so it doesn't have to pay $3 million toward construction of a practice ice facility in Provo until after the 2002 Olympic Games are over.
Olympic organizers originally pledged to give Provo and Utah County the $3 million in 1999. During recent negotiations on drafting a use agreement, however, the organizing committee asked to delay the $3 million payment until April 1, 2002. In exchange for the later date, the organizing committee will pay $200,000 in interest.The Utah Sports Authority already agreed to pay more than $700,000 in interest on the organizing committee's portion so construction on the $7 million facility can begin as soon as bonding is arranged.
Under an interlocal agreement between Utah County and Provo, the Provo City Building Authority will borrow the $7 million - probably in January 1997. The city and county each will be responsible for repaying $2 million over a 14-year period. Both entities plan to use hotel taxes to repay the bonds.
When the bonds are issued, the organizing committee will pay about $200,000 and the Utah Sports Authority about $708,000 toward interest on the remaining debt. That debt will be retired in April 2002 when the organizing committee pays the $3 million.
The project's current time line calls for an architect to be hired in September, with bids on the arena going out in February. Construction could begin in April and should take between 12 to 16 months to complete. City and county officials hope to have a grand opening in late summer 1998.
The 56,000-square-foot, 2,000-seat arena likely will be built on city-owned land east of East Bay Golf Course. Ground testing is being conducted on the site, but other locations are being con
sidered. The East Bay location is the likely site because it is accessible to the entire county.
"From a county standpoint it is very important that all residents feel like this is their facility," Commissioner Gary Herbert said.
Before bonds can be issued, the Provo City/Utah County Ice Sheet Authority must have a use agreement with the organizing committee. Officials from the city and county will meet with the organizing committee next week to finalize the use agreement and go over financing and construction plans.
Basically, the proposed use agreement says the Ice Sheet Authority is responsible for constructing, operating and maintaining the facility. In exchange for the $3 million, the facility will be entirely turned over to the organizing committee for six weeks during the 2002 Winter Games. Olympic officials plan to use the arena as a hockey and skating practice facility.
The organizing committee will reimburse the Ice Sheet Authority personnel costs incurred during the six-week period. However, all concession and ticket rights belong to the organizing committee. The agreement is patterned after a similar agreement the organizing committee has with West Valley City's hockey arena.
Local officials plan to name the practice facility the Provo City/Utah County Olympic Ice Sheet. But to use the word "Olympic," they first must obtain permission from the U.S. Olympic Committee. If permission is not granted, the word "Olympic" will be omitted from the name.
"I think there's a definite advantage in calling this an Olympic facility," Mayor George Stewart said.
City and county officials also hope that Olympic organizers will consider constructing a cross-country skiing and biathlon facility near the mouth of Provo Canyon.