Salt Lake City has become the latest city to express interest in bidding for a Major League Baseball (MLB) expansion franchise.
ESPN reports that former Utah Jazz owner Gail Miller is leading a group that wants to bring an MLB expansion franchise to the Utah city in the coming years. The Big League Utah group consists of former MLB players Dale Murphy and Jeremy Guthrie, as well as the Larry H. Miller Company founded by Gail’s late husband, who brought the NBA’s Jazz to Utah from New Orleans in the 1970s.
The ESPN report claims that the group wants to build a stadium in the Rocky Mountain Power District, a 100-acre mixed-use zone located between Salt Lake City’s new airport and its downtown core.
MLB commissioner Rob Manfred said earlier this year that he is keen to expand the 30-team league to 32, and Salt Lake City now joins Las Vegas, Nashville, Portland, Charlotte, and Montreal as cities reportedly interested in a potential bid.
ESPN said conversations with MLB about the possibility of expanding to Salt Lake City began about a year ago, when Steve Starks, chief executive of the Miller Company, inquired about the viability of a bid.
“Salt Lake City is a major league city,” Starks told ESPN. “We believe that as a top-30 media market in the fastest-growing state in the country with the youngest population, that’s where our attention should be — and that we could accomplish bringing a team to the Wasatch Front.”
Utah Governor Spencer Cox, who has publicly given his backing to the project, said the state has not been approached to help fund a stadium project, and he would not support using taxpayer money for such a development.
Cox told Fox 13 News: “I don’t think taxpayers should subsidise billionaires. I’ve felt that for a long time.
“I don’t think that’s strong economic policy. I don’t think that’s good for taxpayers. Especially when most of the benefits for something like that accrue directly for franchise owners.”