Sports

Salt Lake City group hopes to gain MLB expansion team

SALT LAKE CITY — While Major League Baseball has no current plans to add teams, the family that used to own the NBA’s Utah Jazz says it wants an expansion franchise.

The Miller family and the Larry H. Miller Company said Wednesday a coalition calling itself Big League Utah has targeted a site for a ballpark at the 100-acre Rocky Mountain Power District on Salt Lake City’s west side.

MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred has said repeatedly that he doesn’t envision expansion until after the Tampa Bay Rays and Oakland Athletic s get new ballparks but would like to eventually add two teams to reach 32. Baseball last expanded in 1998, adding teams in Phoenix and St. Petersburg, Florida.

The Miller family bought a share of the Jazz in 1985 and sold the team in December 2020.

“Over the past year, we have enjoyed our ongoing conversation with Major League Baseball and have formally registered our interest in Salt Lake being considered an expansion market,” Steve Starks, CEO of the Larry H. Miller Co., said in a statement.

Salt Lake City has had a Triple-A team since 1994, at first an affiliate of the Minnesota Twins and since 2001 a farm team of the Los Angeles Angels. The Bees averaged 5,873 fans per game in 2022, according to Baseball America.

Montreal; Las Vegas; Nashville, Tennessee; and Portland, Oregon, also have expressed possible interest in obtaining an MLB team. Salt Lake City is the 29th-largest Designated Market Area at 1.15 million, according to Nielsen. Charlotte is 21st at 1.32 million, Portland 22nd at 1.29 million, Nashville 27th at 1.7 million, and Las Vegas 40th at 870,000.

After withdrawing plans for ballparks in Fremont and San Jose, the A’s announced in November 2018 they had found a waterfront location for a new ballpark at Howard Terminal, close to the Jack London Square neighborhood. But the city of Oakland missed a key October deadline for finalizing an agreement with the A’s on the $12 billion project. The A’s also have been exploring a move to Las Vegas.

A new ballpark for the Rays would be built near the current Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg, Florida, under plans released in January. But financing for the project has not been announced.

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