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MX News Update 2024

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Utah Taxpayer’s Association considers entertainment district plan

The upcoming NHL franchise has many Utahns excited, and it has made officials more confident that a downtown revitalization in Salt Lake City will be worth the money.

RELATED: Salt Lake City plans Abravanel Hall’s future within downtown revitalization

Parker Winters, a local sports fan, is all for bringing an NHL team to Utah. He said it’s clear others are too. He tried to go to the team’s meet-and-greet event on April 24, but it was so crowded that he watched from outside.

“Every seat was taken. And unfortunately or fortunately, thousands of people had to watch the event on the square,” said SEG spokesman Mike Maughan.

Maughan made a presentation to the City Council on Tuesday advocating for a half-percent sales tax increase in Salt Lake City, something SEG and city partners are calling “a community investment.”

MORE: SEG details proposal for entertainment district near Delta Center in Salt Lake application

“The tax will raise $1.2 billion over 30 years,” Maughan said.

2News asked Rusty Cannon, president of the Utah Tax Association, for his thoughts on the proposed tax increase, and whether he thinks it would be a worthwhile investment.

Cannon said: “With every stadium deal, some are different. Some are quite egregious and some are well thought out.”

RELATED: Entertainment district proposal could include occupied blocks east of Delta Center

Cannon, chairman of the government spending watchdog group, added that the plans appear fairly well thought out.

“Fortunately, Utah lawmakers and local officials have been quite considerate of the hockey stadium thus far,” he said.

Beyond the sales tax, Cannon said SEG’s commitment to investing its own money in the project is also significant, also noting the early and clear public support.

MORE: Salt Lake City sees half-cent tax increase for new sports entertainment zone

“We’ve all seen the turnout for season ticket purchases. Who would have thought hockey could be so positive?” he said.

As more details about the overall plan emerge, Cannon is pushing for transparency for decision makers and consideration for taxpayers.

SEG said it is willing to invest up to $3 billion in the project. There is also a $900 million cap on the taxpayer money SEG can access for developments.

Smith Entertainment Group officials have confirmed that the final team name for Utah’s new NHL team won’t be announced until “well into the first season.”

SEG is expected to release a survey sometime Wednesday or Thursday asking Utah to help name the new team.

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