Jan 18, 2023 - News

Salt Lake Bees moving to a new ballpark in South Jordan

Towers at the entrance of a baseball stadium bookend a sign that reads "Smith's Ballpark."

Smith's Ballpark, home of the Salt Lake Bees until the team moves to South Jordan in 2025. Photo: Erin Alberty/Axios

The Salt Lake Bees are leaving Smith's Ballpark, the team's home for nearly 30 years.

  • They'll be heading to South Jordan's Daybreak community for a new stadium being built by the team's owner, the Larry H. Miller Co.

Why it matters: The loss of the Bees — and potentially the city-owned stadium — will drastically change the "Ballpark" neighborhood around West Temple and 1300 South.

  • City planners had hoped the neighborhood would become an entertainment district, anchored by the ballpark.
  • Instead, the team's move will make it the center of development on 1,000 acres the LHM Company acquired in Daybreak.

Details: The Bees will play at Smith's Ballpark through 2024, the company announced Tuesday.

  • Construction on their new home, which will be privately funded, will begin this year.

Catch up quick: In October, Salt Lake adopted a new plan for the area, calling for bike and pedestrian routes, a new library, a revamped TRAX station and a designated "festival street" on West Temple.

  • That, along with the ballpark and growing apartment and condo development, would facilitate an entertainment zone with restaurants, theaters, bars and plazas, city planners said.

Between the lines: The strategy anticipated Smith's Ballpark — and the Bees — would be the "centerpiece" of the area, and looked to other cities' stadium neighborhoods as examples.

  • It's unclear whether the plan will be feasible without the team to draw the crowds.

Yes, but: The ballpark is open just 70 days a year, Salt Lake City Mayor Erin Mendenhall noted.

  • Its 13-acre footprint is "prime real estate" and an "unparalleled development opportunity," Mendenhall said in a news conference at the ballpark.
  • "I'm committed to making sure that we see a transition to … a space that is activated 365 days a year, that supports … economic vitality, access to wealth building, and to housing."

Of note: The city has spent about $45 million on the stadium since 1993 but has received about $4 million in revenue from it during that stretch, Mendenhall said.

What's next: The city has launched a design competition with cash prizes, for residents, college students and developers to submit proposals for the ballpark space.

What we're watching: The Bees' departure could affect Salt Lake's mayoral race.

  • Mendenhall's challenger, former mayor Rocky Anderson, has made the Ballpark neighborhood a focus of his campaign, citing complaints of rising crime.
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