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Two Kearns mainstays the Utah Olympic Oval and the Kearns Oquirrh Park Fitness Center soon will be linked by a building whose occupants will include leaders of the community's new Metro Township Council.
Known as the Kearns Athlete Training and Event Center, the $12.5 million facility also will serve as headquarters for U.S. Speedskating. It is the governing body for the national short- and long-track speedskating programs that have benefited from the "fastest ice on Earth" at the oval, a venue for the 2002 Winter Olympics.
"In the spirit of an inclusive and broad-reaching Olympic legacy in Utah, this multiuse facility is providing state-of-the-art training facilities for both Olympic athletes and Kearns residents," said Colin Hilton, president and chief executive of the Utah Olympic Legacy Foundation, the nonprofit established to run the oval and two other 2002 venues with a $72 million endowment left by the Games.
"The collaborative steps taken to bring together five funding partners to start construction on this multiuse community project is incredibly symbolic to how the Legacy Foundation approaches Utah's Olympic legacy," he added. "We do things in partnership [and] we don't hold back on visionary ideas."
Hilton's foundation provided $1 million to build the two-story, 36,700-square-foot structure, an amount matched by U.S. Speedskating.
The fitness center kicked in $2 million and will get 11,500 square feet of new space to expand its facility, which already features indoor and outdoor swimming pools, a full-size gymnasium, weight and cardio rooms, tennis and pickleball courts, hiking trails, steam rooms, saunas and whirlpools.
Taxpayers are contributing $8 million $3 million from the state and $5 million from Salt Lake County, which views the facility as an integral part of its "Kearns Initiative" to upgrade that west-central community and promote economic development there.
"When we launched the Kearns Initiative, we were aiming to increase educational opportunities for students, boost health and wellness and bring new jobs and infrastructure here," county Mayor Ben McAdams said at an April 18 groundbreaking. "This is the first tangible result."
"Kearns has become synonymous with sports training and competition," he added. "Salt Lake County is happy to build on that reputation and to support more opportunities for sports enthusiasts."
As chairman of the first Kearns Metro Township Council, Steve Perry welcomed the facility on multiple fronts.
"The Olympic Oval and the fitness center are already jewels in our community. And this event center will just highlight the resources we have," he said. "It will be headquarters for U.S. Speedskating, which is an amazing thing to have in our community. There's more room for the fitness center to expand. That's really good for the community. And the Metro Township Council will have our meetings upstairs in a nice community center. We all benefit."
Fitness center trustee Laurie Stringham said the addition will improve the facility's ability to serve its growing membership base while providing more green space for community events.
After spending the past few years in cramped quarters at the oval, U.S. Speedskating plans to use its 11,600 square feet in the Athlete Training and Event Center to "provide world-class, off-ice training facilities for [speedskaters] that will be the perfect complement to the outstanding on-ice facilities," said Executive Director Ted Morris.
Construction is projected to take 12 to 14 months.