It's been a month since the groundbreaking for a Sandy soccer stadium, and Real Salt Lake still doesn't know how it will pay to build it.

Real officials thought they would get $15 million in RDA funds from Sandy, but now $5 million of those dollars are off the table.

Team leaders said Friday that they will no longer ask Jordan School District to opt in on a Sandy community-development (CDA) project, one that would have committed the district to giving up $5 million to $7 million in future funds.

"First, let's be clear: We never have — and we never will — propose taking money from existing education budgets, contrary to previous reports," Real's chief executive officer Dean Howes said in a statement. "Real Salt Lake has not and will not be asking the Jordan School District to participate in a Sandy city CDA to help provide funding for the stadium."

Now, it's unknown where that roughly $5 million will come from. But Howes told the Deseret Morning News on Friday that those millions will not be covered by private investors. Team officials plan to still look for other public funds.

"We trust we can work together with the community leaders and cover that gap," he said.

In August, the Salt Lake County Council approved a funding plan to give Real Salt Lake $55 million in public subsidies for a 42-acre, $180 million stadium, as well as an adjoining hotel and broadcast studio. Those public funds include $15 million in Redevelopment Agency funds from Sandy.

RDA dollars are tools that cities use to spur economic development. Taxing entities, including school districts, divert their share of property-tax dollars to a redevelopment project for a set amount of time.

Sandy plans to use a new track of recent RDA legislation to give the team the $15 million promised for the stadium. That track, community-development area (CDA) money, uses only the city's and county's cut of property taxes. But under a CDA, school districts can opt in if they want to.

Over the past couple of weeks, city and Jordan School District leaders have discussed that idea. But Jordan district leaders and parents strongly opposed giving education money to a stadium.

"We're going back to square one now," said Randy Sant, Sandy's economic development director. "Simply, we need to sit down with Real, we need to find out what the other sources of funds are."

However, the city cannot offer up additional tax dollars. Neither will the county, said chief administrative officer Doug Willmore.

Instead, Sandy and Real will continue to meet and redo the funding model. Before details of a CDA are officially presented before the Sandy City Council, Real plans to hold an open house with team, county and Sandy officials on Friday, Oct. 6, from 5-7 p.m. in the Sandy South Towne Expo Center.

Real's Howes said he did not turn down the idea of asking Jordan School District for money because of public outcry.

"We didn't even want the appearance of taking from education," he said. "Those tax dollars will someday be earmarked for schools. From our perspective, it was just too hard to communicate that back to the community."

The financing is complicated, he said, and in the end, it would have taken a lot of time to explain those details and present the value.

According to Real's financial plans, the $135 million first phase of the development, which involves the stadium, hotel and studio, will generate $30 million of new property-tax revenues for the school district over the next 25 years. As the project gets bigger, more money will come to the district.


E-mail: astowell@desnews.com; Contributing: Leigh Dethman