The future of Maurice Abravanel Hall has yet to be determined, but the Utah Symphony is included in “a potential sports, entertainment, culture and convention district,” Salt Lake County leaders say as discussions over downtown’s future outside of the Delta Center heats up.

Salt Lake County Mayor Jenny Wilson issued a lengthy statement on Tuesday, confirming that her office has been involved in conversations with the Utah Symphony and Smith Entertainment Group over an entertainment district outside of the Delta Center. Smith Entertainment Group, owner of the Utah Jazz and the state's new National Hockey League franchise, requested two blocks east of the arena to build the district through a process created by the Utah Legislature earlier this year.

"While much public attention has focused on a new sports arena as part of the downtown revitalization proposal, all parties are aligned in confirming that fine arts and culture will continue to have a strong and vital presence in the downtown core," Wilson said. "The vision for a revitalization project is in the earliest stages and no decisions on the future of Abravanel Hall have been made."

Wilson added that the county and Utah Symphony were already working on a "comprehensive master plan" to address renovation needs for the 45-year-old concert hall and she believes the new district could "accelerate" those plans.

Her statement was released just ahead of a Salt Lake City Council meeting, where Smith Entertainment Group officials will provide more details about the company's proposal for downtown Salt Lake City under SB272, the bill that creates a downtown "revitalization zone" surrounding the Delta Center.

Smith Entertainment Group filed its application to partner with the city on a zone on April 4, about two weeks before acquiring the Arizona Coyotes in a deal that relocated the NHL franchise to Utah. But the document's details were mostly kept private until Salt Lake City responded to public records requests on Friday.

The company requested a 99-year lease extension with the Redevelopment Agency of Salt Lake City to remain on the block that's home to the Delta Center, according to the seven-page application. It also asked for a similar lease with Salt Lake County for two blocks east of the arena, which would require a remodel of the Salt Palace Convention Center.

Smith also asked the Salt Lake City Council to approve the full 30-year 0.5% sales and use tax increase that SB272 also authorizes, while asking to collect "the full amount" it generates. Legislative fiscal analysts say the tax increase in Salt Lake City could generate $54 million annually. The application outlines other public funding and rezoning requests to set up redevelopment near the arena.


But that also led to concerns about buildings like Abravanel Hall, located within two blocks east of the Delta Center. An online petition calling on the county and state to protect the venue has already gathered close to 20,000 signatures by Tuesday afternoon.

The plan also put into question the future of what's left of Salt Lake City's historic Japantown, which was partially dismantled to make way for the Salt Palace Convention Center. Its future is also expected to be addressed during Tuesday's meeting.

The City Council is also expected to set up a public hearing on the matter, which will be held on May 21.

This story will be updated.

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