Officials interested in building an MLB stadium on Salt Lake City’s west side

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Several major players working to bring more professional sports to Utah are interested in locating future teams near North Temple on the west side of Salt Lake City, multiple sources told Building Salt Lake.

In fact, there’s talk about developing some of the 100 acres of land owned by Rocky Mountain Power and developing it into a sports district should the effort succeed.

Multiple sources confirmed the Larry H. Miller Company is interested in attracting a Major League Baseball team to Salt Lake City and building a stadium on land that’s owned and being redeveloped by Rocky Mountain Power. An announcement could come during a groundbreaking at the Power District on Wednesday.

Eventually, the site could become home to a National League Hockey team, another source said.

Councilman Alejandro Puy, who represents the City Council district that includes the site, confirmed the area was being eyed for an MLB team.

“When I was briefed about it they were talking about MLB in Salt Lake,” Puy said Tuesday.

“There is very much a thought process and there are actual leads” for attracting an MLB team, Puy said. “This is not let’s build this and they’re going to come.”

Such an announcement would likely come as a shock to many in a region that largely expected a future professional sports team would be located at the Point of the Mountain or possibly in Daybreak.

The Larry H. Miller Company didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment Tuesday.

The company already announced this year that it was moving the Salt Lake Bees minor league baseball team to Daybreak, which the company owns.

Sources said Steve Starks, CEO of the Larry H. Miller Company, attended a recent real estate conference held at the Delta Center and mentioned a desire to bring a Major League Baseball franchise to Salt Lake and hinted at the Power District.

Sources we reached out to asked to remain anonymous to speak about an impending announcement by the powerful company, which sold 80 percent of its ownership of the Utah Jazz to tech mogul Ryan Smith in October 2020.

Kip Paul, vice chairman of investment sales for Cushman & Wakefield in Salt Lake City, said the firm had been hired to look for investors who would build the first phase of apartments on the Rocky Mountain Power site.

“We were set to do a request for offers on the property and they told us to hit pause,” Paul said, adding that he didn’t know about any announcement related to the MLB on Wednesday.

Political backing

Talk of attracting one or more professional sports teams has been simmering for months, with the concept receiving backing from Utah Gov. Spencer Cox.

Cox joined KSL Sports Radio in late February to talk about the prospect of Utah attracting another professional sports team to join the Jazz, Real Salt Lake and Utah Royals.

The Salt Lake metro area is on par with Milwaukee, San Diego, Kansas City and Cincinnati, which all have MLB teams. Cox told the station Salt Lake could support MLB or NHL.

Aerial rendering Vivint Smart Home Arena.

“You will see a major push to work with both Major League Baseball and the NHL,” Cox said. “We will see what that looks like moving forward but there certainly has been talk with expansion in Major League Baseball.”

If the Millers announce an intention to bring an MLB franchise to the capital city, it would also come as a surprise to MLB insiders who expect Portland, Las Vegas, Nashville and other markets to be the next to receive an expansion team or perhaps the Oakland Athletics.

While there have been talks about an expansion of the number of teams in the MLB, it’s not clear if or when that would happen, and how Salt Lake City would be the chosen market.

Meanwhile, Smith has continued pursuing the NHL, and a sports district at the Power District could pave the way for the possibility that the Utah Jazz relocate out of the core of Downtown. It’s common for NBA and NHL teams to share space.

Ryan Smith met with NHL commissioner Gary Bettman late last month, according to NHL reporter Elliotte Friedman, who added NHL sources were interested in Smith.

The meeting comes at a time when the Arizona Coyotes — a laughingstock in the NHL that plays out of a college hockey rink — are scoping out possible moves out of Arizona by 2025-26.

It’s not clear whether any announcement on Wednesday would include anything related to the NHL. (It’s worth noting the Rocky Mountain Power site is big enough to include both an MLB stadium and an NHL arena, with room for housing and entertainment.)

It’s clear that very important people in Utah are going full-throttle in their attempts to bring more professional sports to the Beehive State. We’ll see if we get some answers sooner rather than later.

Email Taylor Anderson

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Posted by Taylor Anderson

Taylor Anderson grew up near Chicago and made his way West to study journalism at the University of Montana. He's been a staff writer for the Chicago Tribune, Bend Bulletin and Salt Lake Tribune. A move from Portland, Oregon, to Salt Lake City opened his eyes to the importance of good urban design for building strong neighborhoods. He lives on the border of the Liberty Wells and Ballpark neighborhoods.