Design & Development

MLB stadium bill passed by Utah State Legislature

Featured image credit: Larry H. Miller Company

The Utah State Legislature has approved a bill that sets up a framework to build a new baseball stadium in Salt Lake City, on the condition that the state secures a Major League Baseball franchise by 2032.

The stadium would be funded using private dollars, state sales tax revenue generated within the district, and rental car taxes, paid for primarily by out-of-state users.

Under the proposal, the state would maintain sole ownership of the stadium and stadium land, and the tenant would be responsible for all operations and maintenance costs while making monthly lease payments of $150,000 (£119,000/€139,000) to the state.

Utah State Representative Ryan Wilcox, a sponsor of the H.B. 562 bill, said: “We have a generational opportunity, right now, to communicate in the clearest terms possible that Utah is indeed ready for Major League Baseball. We’re excited for the opportunities H.B. 562 brings to our capital city, our state, and of course, Utah’s families for generations to come.”

Earlier this month, plans were revealed for a $3.5bn mixed-use development in Salt Lake City, with the project including a new ballpark for a potential MLB franchise.

The plans were announced by The Larry H. Miller Company (LHMCO), which oversees the Miller family’s business platforms, including real estate, senior health, sports and entertainment, and investments.

The Power District development vision also included the Utah State Fairpark and improvements to the Jordan River. The H.B. 562 bill passed by the Utah State Legislature yesterday (Wednesday) also calls for a new state district to protect the State Fairpark and rehabilitate the Jordan River.

Salt Lake City expressed an interest in bidding for an MLB expansion franchise back in April 2023. Reports at the time stated that Gail Miller, former owner of the NBA’s Utah Jazz, was leading a group that wants to bring an MLB team to the city in the coming years.

MLB commissioner Rob Manfred has stated the league is looking to add two expansion teams, but the timeline is unclear with the long-term stadium futures of the Oakland Athletics and Tampa Bay Rays the current priority.

Salt Lake City could also become home to an NHL franchise in the coming years. Last month, Smith Entertainment Group (SEG), which owns the Jazz and the team’s Delta Center arena, formally requested that the NHL initiate an expansion process with the purpose of launching a professional ice hockey franchise in Utah.

SEG said that it would be able to immediately welcome an NHL team to Utah as Delta Center could serve as an interim home for the franchise until a new arena is built.

The plans have moved forward this week after the Utah State Senate passed a bill that would enable Salt Lake City to raise the sales tax to fund the creation of a sports and entertainment district that would include a potential NHL arena.

On Tuesday, SEG chairman and Jazz governor Ryan Smith posted a rendering on X, formerly known as Twitter, of a potential new downtown arena that could house an NBA and NHL franchise.

Salt Lake City is the frontrunner to host the Winter Olympics in 2034 and Utah Governor Spencer Cox has said the addition of an NHL franchise would further enhance the state’s winter sports credentials.

Utah’s first professional ice hockey team, the Salt Lake Golden Eagles, debuted in 1969 and played until 1994. Currently, the Utah Grizzlies serve as the East Coast Hockey League affiliate of the NHL’s Colorado Avalanche.