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About Utah: Sandy club is split on stadium

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SANDY — The scene was the usual monthly meeting of the Kultura Club, a Sandy institution that has been around since 1967 and is still going strong as ever.

About 50 people sat in their chairs in front of a table filled with plates of carrot cake, the prizes awaiting all those who made it through the guest speaker, who happened to be me.

I was speaking to the club for three very good reasons. One, my sister Karen is a past president. Two, I was asked by Daryl Olsen, a very nice woman and longtime Kultura Club member in charge of lining up speakers for 2006.

Three, she asked me in the fall of 2005.

It's hard to come up with a decent excuse when someone says in October, "Could you speak to our club next August?"

That, in a nutshell, is the Kultura Club, a group of very together, very self-disciplined individuals who assemble like clockwork on the last Thursday of every month to listen to speakers from all walks of life — even journalists — or perhaps take in a play or go on a tour of some interesting place like an art gallery.

The basic requirements for membership are that you have to live in Sandy and you have to be a woman.

The club's roots — and this also applies to a majority of its members — penetrate back to a time when Sandy was still definable from Salt Lake City, when you could find a sugar beet somewhere other than in a can at Albertsons, and the city trucks had "Gateway to Alta" printed on their doors.

Sandy has come a long way since the Kultura Club opened for the express purpose of elevating the local culture.

So that's what I chose to talk about — just how far Sandy has come and how far it might be going.

That segued into a discussion about the new Real Salt Lake soccer stadium that will be built in the west part of town if a couple of remaining political land mines can be successfully sidestepped.

I asked the club's members — and the husbands they'd dragged along for some much-needed culture — how they feel about having a professional soccer stadium in their midst.

Their answers did not suggest that the Kultura Club's mature membership will be Real Salt Lake's largest season-ticket base.

The majority were not pleased that tax dollars will be used for the project, particularly tax dollars earmarked for the local school district. Some worried about increased traffic, others about not being able to afford the high price of tickets.

"Well, it should have a roof. Do they know how cold it can get here in the winter?" said one. "It should be called Real Sandy, not Real Salt Lake, if it's going to be here," said another. "They should have put it in West Jordan — they have plenty of soccer fields out there," said another.

One man, who looked and sounded a lot like my brother-in-law, Joe, raised his hand and said, "I kinda cringe to say this around this group, but I'm all for the stadium. I think it's going to be great."

"One thing the media isn't reporting very well," he continued, "is that the school-district money they're talking about is RDA money that the school district wouldn't ever see if the deal didn't happen. It's not taking money away from the schools at all. The media has missed that."

Yes, that was my brother-in-law, Joe.

Emboldened by a stadium supporter, a few others raised their hands to express favor for the project, including one woman who said, "I think it's possible we might be out of touch. Everyone I've talked to under 40 is very excited about the stadium coming."

The final comment came from a woman in the back of the room, after I suggested I might like to print their comments in my column.

"No names," she said.

Then we adjourned for carrot cake.

Lee Benson's column runs Sunday, Monday, Wednesday and Friday. Please send e-mail to benson@desnews.com and faxes to 801-237-2527.