Days of 47 Rodeo marks opening of new arena at Utah State Fairpark

SALT LAKE CITY -- The Days of 47 Rodeo is underway, and the event has returned to the Utah State Fairpark for the first time in decades.

The rodeo is the first public event at the fair park’s brand new venue, the Days of 47 Arena.

Officials hope the arena will help turn around the fortunes of the Fairpark, which has been home to the Utah State Fair since 1902.

The new facility boasts 10,000 seats and cost $17 million.

"What it's going to do is bring a lot of people here, which will hopefully drive economic improvements here in the park,” said Larry Mullenax, Executive Director at Utah State Fairpark.

The money for the arena came from the state, from Salt Lake City and County, and from The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

Jeff Kooring, director of sales and marketing for Utah State Fairpark, said the arena is a much-needed boost.

"We will be making money because of what we can now offer in this arena,” Kooring said.

Already the arena has drawn in a permanent restaurant, Pat's Barbecue, which is open for lunch and special events.

"I’m going to be doing away-game tailgating for the Pac-12 here at the Utah State fairgrounds,” Pat Barber said.

Future retail space along North Temple is planned, with many of the improvements being driven by big events at the arena

"Monster truck, demolition derby and motor cross events, and this is a perfect arena for that,” Kooring said of the events the venue could host.

The Days of 47 Rodeo will introduce the public to the arena, and the event kicked off with the help of the Mormon Tabernacle Choir and a dedication by Governor Gary Herbert.

"This will be a shot in the arm for Salt Lake City, Salt Lake County, the state of Utah and the neighborhoods that surround this great arena,” Herbert said.

The rodeo wraps up on Monday, but the future of the Days of 47 Arena is just getting started.

"We've got some concerts that we're going to be announcing in the next few days,” Mullenax said. “We've got some additional rodeos in the next little bit."

The Fairpark's managers are also hoping to be able to build a large expo center in the near future to drive more large events their way.