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Baseball field is not for sale

Miller might buy instead of lease if Salt Lake so inclines

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Salt Lake City's Franklin Covey Field is not for sale.

If it were, however, new Salt Lake Stingers owner Larry H. Miller said he'd consider buying it.

"If (Mayor) Rocky (Anderson) perceived us as flying in and thought it would be better to unload the stadium, yeah, we'd talk about it and take it off his hands," Miller said.

Negotiations for a new Stingers' lease of the city-owned stadium are under way and are scheduled to be completed ahead of a Jan. 31 deadline when the existing lease expires.

During those negotiations, Miller said sales proposals could come up: "I don't know if there is a need for either side to do that, but we're open to various things."

But if Miller is open, the city is closed, at least for now. Of course, any stadium sales talk is new to city leaders who have never had a willing buyer for the stadium before.

The city doesn't use the stadium for much besides Stingers games. Department of Public Services spokeswoman Shelia Yorkin said historically the city has hosted "three or four" non-Stingers-related events at the stadium annually. Also, the University of Utah baseball team has played some early spring games there. Under the current contract, Salt Lake County and Franklin Covey can also use the stadium when no other events are scheduled; however, that doesn't happen often.

Under the Stingers' previous lease agreement, which was negotiated by Mayor Deedee Corradini's administration in 1995, the Stingers have paid the city $300,000 annually to lease the stadium. That payment helps cover the city's cost to operate the stadium, which hasn't been a revenue-generator for city coffers.

When it was built in the early to mid '90s, the stadium cost $18 million, but it likely is worth more now.

There are numerous, multi-million dollar public projects city leaders have been pushing in recent months including remodeling the Utah Theatre on Main Street ($68 million), a new Major League Soccer stadium ($15.5 million for land), Pioneer Park redesign ($6 million), daylighting City Creek and others.

While money for those projects has often been hard to come by, city spokeswoman Deeda Seed said, "we don't see any compelling public policy reason to explore (a stadium sale) at this point."

"Why would we want to sell it?" she said. "It was a public project."

Tax dollars paid for all the $18 million construction costs except for $1.4 million in naming rights from Franklin Covey.

Seed said the city likely will seek a lease agreement with Miller similar to the one Corradini won in 1995.

E-mail: bsnyder@desnews.com