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Salt Lake City Group Floats Proposal For Major League Baseball Expansion Franchise

 Leif Skodnick  |    Apr 12th, 2023 8:17pm EDT

Smith’s Ballpark in Salt Lake City, Utah, is the current home of the Pacific Coast League’s Salt Lake Bees. (Photo by Daniela Porcelli/Getty Images)

By Matthew Tallarini
World Baseball Network

A Salt Lake City-based group led by the Larry H. Miller Company announced that a coalition of Utah businesses have joined with former Major League Baseball players Dale Murphy and Jeremy Guthrie, who reside in Utah, to pursue an MLB franchise for the area in the next few years, ESPN’s Jeff Passan reported Wednesday.  

Miller was the former owner of the National Basketball Association’s Utah Jazz from 1985 until selling the team in October 2020 to Ryan Smith, found of Qualtrics, for $1.66 billion, which was 70 times what the Miller family originally paid. 

Commissioner Rob Manfred has expressed his interests to expanding Major League Baseball to 32 teams to multiple news outlets during the last few years. At the same time, Major League Baseball has not figured out what lies in the future for both the Oakland Athletics and Tampa Bay Rays franchises, both of which have considered moving due to low attendance and a lack of ballpark amenities as well as so-far unsuccessful attempts to secure new stadiums within their city corridors. 

A planned site for the stadium was announced by Rocky Mountain Power, an energy corporation, with the project including a surrounding development that will create Salt Lake’s Power District neighborhood. According to a report in the Salt Lake Tribune, officials envision a 100-acre layout for a major league ballpark with views of both the Salt Lake City skyline and the Wasatch Mountains, and will feature transit and highway access as well as easy travel to the Salt Lake City International Airport. 

The Big League Utah group also included a major construction company to oversee the project in veteran stadium builder Mortenson Construction, which oversaw the construction of the Atlanta Braves Truist Park in Cobb County, Georgia. According to the Deseret News, “Mortenson is the general contractor for the first phase of Salt Lake City’s Power District and has partnered with Rocky Mountain Power, the Larry H. Miller Company and Big League Utah to help attract Major League Baseball to the Salt Lake City region.” 

This project can attract many substantials with the growth of Salt Lake City heading in the right direction.

According to ESPN, “Leaders of the Salt Lake City group highlighted a media market larger than four current major league teams in cities such as San Diego, Kansas City, Cincinnati, and Milwaukee.” Due to the demographics and population of urban, suburban, and rural areas such as Wasatch Front, Ogden and Provo near Salt Lake City, the growth of a Major League Baseball franchise could potentially build a committed base of fans. 

Salt Lake City already has a Triple-A franchise, the Salt Lake Bees of the Pacific Coast League, that is affiliated with the Los Angeles Angels. In January 2023, the Salt Lake Bees announced they were leaving Salt Lake City after the 2024 season and headed to South Jordan, Utah’s Daybreak region, with a new stadium being built for the 2025 season. The team’s affiliation with the Angels will remain intact during when the Bees move into their new stadium.