UTAH LEGISLATURE

Plan to finance MLB stadium gets House approval after major tax change

Feb 27, 2024, 1:19 PM | Updated: 6:54 pm

SALT LAKE CITY — The plan to finance a Major League Baseball stadium on Salt Lake’s west side got a big change as it hit the House floor Tuesday.

A new version no longer includes raising hotel taxes statewide, also known as the transient room tax, to help finance the ballpark. Instead, the plan includes capturing newly generated sales tax within the Fairpark district and reinvesting it back into the area.

Under the new plan the sales tax on rental cars would still go up.

The House voted to pass second substitute HB562, 51-21. The bill now heads to the Utah Senate, where it needs to be approved by the end of Friday before Gov. Spencer Cox can either sign or veto it.

Rep. Candice Pierucci, R-Herriman, argued that rental car tax largely comes from out-of-state folks, and said “little to no sales tax” is generated right now in that area. She says right now this area is a drain.

Rep. Judy Weeks Rohner, R-West Valley City, said at first she didn’t like the bill but now likes the changes and called it “a win-win.” She pleaded for support to help Salt Lake City and the west side of the city.

Also on Tuesday, Utah Jazz governor Ryan Smith posted a rendering of a reimagined downtown Salt Lake City sports and entertainment district, anchored by a new arena that would host the Jazz and a potential National Hockey League franchise.

“Our efforts are not about an arena, it’s about revitalizing a downtown that desperately needs investment,” Smith said. “Imagine a downtown experience like this with the NBA / NHL at its core.”

While Smith says a new arena would be an economic catalyst for downtown Salt Lake, economists broadly agree that arenas are “not economic development catalysts and confer limited social benefits.”

Ryan Smith teases reimagined downtown SLC with new arena district as lawmakers debate hundreds of millions in subsidies

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Plan to finance MLB stadium gets House approval after major tax change