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Salt Lake County Equestrian Park may host rodeo during Games

SHARE Salt Lake County Equestrian Park may host rodeo during Games

SOUTH JORDAN ? The Salt Lake County Equestrian Park and Event Center may host a rodeo during the Olympics, and city leaders are preparing for protesters.

Rodeo promotor Craig Mattice has an agreement with the park to lease it from Feb. 10-23, but he has not yet satisfied all of the city's requirements. If a rodeo is held, it would not be a Salt Lake Organizing Committee-sponsored event, unlike the rodeo in Davis County.

Meantime, South Jordan police received a call from the state's Homeland Security Office, saying that protests would be likely if a rodeo were to take place at the park.

The call prompted the City Council to adopt a "free expression" ordinance that requires groups of less than 2,000 to fill out an application and pay the city $100 for the right to gather in a place determined by the city.

In the past, People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals has protested at county fairs at the park. Protesters have targeted mink farms in the city and on at least one occasion letting several animals out of their cages.

"Our fear was, with the Olympics, some groups would be looking for anything to get attention," City Manager Ricky Horst said.

But Horst said a rodeo may not happen.

Without an approved security plan and the ability to cover the event with enough emergency personnel ? about one third of the city's police and several firefighters and paramedics are helping with Olympic-related duties ? the city would consider shutting the rodeo down, Horst said.

"We're going to have a rodeo," said Mattice, president of Salt Lake Pro/Am Rodeo.

He predicts a small, indoor rodeo ? able to seat between 2,000 and 3,000 ? that probably will attract the interest of mostly people from regional rodeo-related associations, families of participants and their friends ? though tickets would be available to the public. The money raised would benefit the Utah Boys Ranch.

"We don't have any movie stars out here," he said. "But we have a whole bunch of guys playing cowboys and Indians for real."

E-mail: sspeckman@desnews.com