Big Broadway musicals like "The Lion King" and "Wicked" could come to this southern Salt Lake Valley suburb.
A study released Tuesday says Sandy - fed by the Salt Lake area market - could support a 2,500-seat theater. And a developer has offered to build the $50 million playhouse.
Will Sandy also welcome the cursing soldiers of "Miss Saigon" and murderous chorus girls of "Chicago"?
At least one City Council member wants performances that promote "family values" to come to Sandy.
"We are not going to be a Las Vegas environment," said Councilman Dennis Tenney.
Utah County-based developer Scott McQuarrie approached Sandy last year about building a 2,500-seat theater as part of a $500 million mixed-use development he has planned near City Hall, said Sandy Mayor Tom Dolan.
Sandy plans to subsidize the playhouse's construction with the new property taxes generated by the development. The city does not need additional funding from Salt Lake County, but would be happy to partner with the county if it is interested, Dolan noted.
The theater would become a city-owned facility through a lease-to-own agreement with the developer. Sandy is now soliciting proposals from companies interested in operating and booking the venue.
Dolan said it won't be the city's role to regulate the content of performances.
Sandy's study, completed by Webb Management Services Inc. for $19,000, concluded that the city's mostly educated, affluent and middle-aged population is a prime market for art performances.
But some argue the state's first big, Broadway roadhouse should be built in Salt Lake City, which also is plotting such a facility.
"We support it going into downtown Salt Lake City where it can be successful," said Salt Lake Chamber President Lane Beattie, who noted past research has shown that suburban playhouses founder without the "synergy" spawned by multiple attractions in an urban center.
Broadway in Sandy "just won't" take off, he said.
"Their only hope of success is that in some way they can convince people they will build it first . . . and Salt Lake never builds one."
Salt Lake City Mayor Ralph Becker vows to continue with plans to build a downtown theater, his spokeswoman Helen Langan said Tuesday.
Currently, some Broadway hits make it to the Capitol Theatre and Kingsbury Hall, but many pass over Salt Lake City for bigger venues.
"For over a decade we've said there is a need for a new, larger Broadway theater in the Salt Lake market . . . We're not surprised if [Sandy's] study says the same thing," said Steve Boulay, president of New Space Entertainment, which presents Broadway Across America in Utah.
Boulay, however, would not pick a side in the Sandy versus Salt Lake City debate.
Salt Lake County also is conducting a study to see where a large playhouse would best fit.
The county had retained Webb Management but fired the consulting firm after learning it was preparing a study for Sandy.
Webb Management recommended that the Sandy theater be operated as a commercial venture, predicting it could be run that way without need for an ongoing public subsidy.
The New York-based consulting firm, which also worked with Theater Consultants Collaborative on the report, said the theater's use by nonprofit groups should be kept to a minimum.
Sandy's Broadway-style theater study suggests:
* The playhouse could attract 80 performances per year.
* The facility could be rented out for 30 nonprofit, community and private events per year.
* Annual revenue generated would be $6.1 million.
* Annual operating expenses would be just under $6.1 million, generating a net income of $23,222.
* Theater goers would spend $3.8 million annually at surrounding businesses.
Source: City of Sandy