Friday, March 16, 2007

Real Deal falling apart?

Real investor Goldman Sachs pulls out of deal

By Leigh Dethman and Amelia Nielson-StowellDeseret Morning News

Big-time investment firm Goldman Sachs has pulled out as an investor for the Real Salt Lake soccer stadium. The global financier's real estate arm, Whitehall, was going to own a 50 percent share of the team with Real owner Dave Checketts' company Sports Capital Parnters. Another New York real-estate development firm will now step in as a 50 percent owner of the team. The firm, which Real officials declined to name, will also invest $24 million in the stadium project, another $24 million in other Real business ventures, and secure a $33 million construction loan for the stadium. "It doesn't change our business plan at all," team spokesman Eric Gelfand said. "They are stepping right in to what Goldman was investing." Sources say Whitehall grew impatient with the never-ending stadium negotiations and pulled out. Representatives from the investment firm could not be reached late Friday.

It just took so long. It went on forever," said Sandy Mayor Tom Dolan. "It was supposed to be done a year ago." Negotiations to give the team millions in public funds hit roadblocks throughout 2006. But last month, the Legislature approved a last-minute funding package for the stadium, with $35 million of Salt Lake County's hotel-room tax revenue. Currently, the team is also having troubles with a parking plan around the site at 9256 S. State Street. Thursday night, Sandy's planning commission recommended that $10 million the city has pledged to use towards infrastructure not be given to the team until crucial parking problems are solved. Per the state's $35 million funding package, $20 million must be used for 1,000 new parking stalls within a 5-minute radius from the stadium. The majority of the other spots will be temporary spots within a five- to 15-minute walk from the stadium. How to funnel 21,000 soccer fans from the stadium to their cars is of concern to Sandy city staff and elected officials.

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