Jay Evensen: As I was saying, publicly funded stadiums are money losers

Photo by Richard Bart Green, Don Green Photography

Aerial photo of the inaugural Real Salt Lake game at Rio Tinto Stadium in Sandy.

I hate to be the one to say I told you so, but …

The truth is I’d have to get in line.

And I’d have to stand somewhere behind former Salt Lake County Mayor Peter Corroon, who would be first.

Eleven years ago, when the then-owners of the professional soccer team Real Salt Lake argued like breathless teenagers that they had to have public funding for a new stadium right now or they would simply die, I wrote columns urging politicians not to buy it.

Corroon was way ahead of me.

Not that he wasn’t a soccer fan. Corroon was, at the time, an RSL season ticket holder. He just said he recognized a bad deal when he saw it, and he had read enough academic studies on stadium financing to know public funding was a bad idea. He rejected a deal involving county funds then stood aside as Republican state lawmakers made it happen, anyway.

And now we know Corroon was right.

Thanks to the sleuthing of commercial real estate agent Joe Scovel, who represents clients at odds with the team and with Sandy, where the team’s Rio Tinto Stadium is located, we now know Salt Lake County quietly cut the assessed value of that stadium almost in half about six years ago.

Instead of paying taxes on a $98.1 million stadium, the team is paying taxes on a $57 million stadium. That has made it harder for Sandy to pay off the $11 million bond it provided for construction (the state added $35 million of its own through hotel taxes).

It also has meant less money each year for the Canyons and Jordan school districts, as well as water and sewer districts. And even though the city made a side deal with the team for $75,000 a year, in lieu of some parking spaces the team was supposed to provide, the city had to dip into other parts of its budget to make bond payments for a while.

It may be said everyone in the city has felt a bit of the burden to make up for the $5.4 million or so the reassessment has cost.

Corroon, it should be noted, was still county mayor when all this happened. Like members…

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