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$55M bond limit set for Legacy Events Center redevelopment

By Mark Shenefelt - | Aug 10, 2022
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An artist's rendering of the proposed new Legacy Events Center in Farmington, to be rebranded as the Western Sports Park. A $55 million project will also rebuild the old center and add various outdoor sports fields. The project aims to serve a booming youth sports market.
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An artist's rendering of the inside of the proposed new Legacy Events Center in Farmington, to be rebranded as the Western Sports Park. A $55 million project will also rebuild the old center and add various outdoor sports fields. The project aims to serve a booming youth sports market.
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An artist's rendering of the proposed new Legacy Events Center in Farmington, to be rebranded as the Western Sports Park. A $55 million project will also rebuild the old center and add various outdoor sports fields. The project aims to serve a booming youth sports market.
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Site plan for the $55 million upgrade and expansion of Davis County's Legacy Events Center, to be rebranded as the as the Western Sports Park.

FARMINGTON — Plans have been triggered to redevelop Davis County’s Legacy Events Center in Farmington, turning it into a rebranded Western Sports Park with a new 180,000-square-foot events building and a network of upgraded outdoor sports fields.

The Davis County Commission on Tuesday approved a resolution directing officials to issue up to $55 million in sales tax revenue bonds to fund the project. Groundbreaking is planned for spring 2023 with completion near the end of 2024.

The project’s goal is to meet surging demand for youth sports venues in the county, along the Wasatch Front and in the Intermountain West, Kent Anderson, Davis County’s community and economic development director, said in an interview.

Officials hope to use the development to drive hotel and restaurant business, in turn generating more tourism tax revenue, which will be used to repay the bonds over the expected 20- to 25-year term of the bond issuance.

The new events building will have 2,700 fixed seats, with potential to add 3,700 temporary seats to boost capacity to 6,000. That will give Davis County its first venue capable of hosting high school graduations, Anderson said. And in the winter sports season, the center will host volleyball, basketball, wrestling and other events.

Further event capacity will be retained by redeveloping the 24-year-old existing Legacy Events Center, measuring 62,000 square feet.

The upgraded outdoor sports complex will feature fields to host soccer, lacrosse, Ultimate Frisbee and other competitions, Anderson said.

The new Western Sports Park will be an attractive destination for multiday sporting events also because of nearby amenities, chiefly Station Park and Lagoon Amusement Park, he added. “In the youth sports world, sometimes the locations they go to aren’t easily accessible,” he said. “But Legacy is centrally located on the Wasatch Front and in the western United States, withy easy access to the airport, FrontRunner and Station Park. Sometimes people are there for three days and you have an extensive lifestyle center right across the street.”

Officials hope the project will boost local hotel occupancy rates, especially in the winter, when Anderson said they drop to around 60%, compared to 80% in the summer months.

The $55 million bond package is the largest the county has ever done, said Curtis Koch, county clerk/auditor, who presented the resolution to the commission along with Johnathan Ward of Zions Public Finance.

The resolution sets parameters for the bond issuance, which will occur this fall, Ward said. The limits are $55 million, 25 years and a 5.5% interest rate, he said, adding, “We always set parameters wider and higher and longer” than the figures anticipated, providing room for unexpected needs.

For instance, he said he hopes the bond issues will end up needing to be millions less and the term at 20 years.

Officials said a public hearing on the bond issuance will be scheduled for Aug. 30.

Anderson said the Legacy grounds face a market far different than when they were established in 1990, intended to be largely a fairgrounds and equestrian venue. “Equestrian is a shrinking market,” he said. Because Legacy is supported by tourism tax dollars, “you have to keep it relevant and economically viable,” he added.

Davis County’s population now is 35% under age 19, about 120,000 people, he said, explaining the focus the commission is putting on youth sports. “We used to raise crops and now we raise kids,” he said.

County support for equestrian events will not end, though. The county is building a new $5 million equestrian center at the Utah State University Botanical Gardens in Kaysville.

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