Salt Lake City is currently home to the Utah Jazz and that has been it to this point in sports history, apart from a stint in 2019 with the AAF spring football league that collapsed after just half a season due to running out of league funds gifting the city the Salt Lake Stallions. As sports cities goes it would certainly rank among the smallest with just over 200,000 people in the metropolitan area, roughly similar to Buffalo New York who does actually have 2 professional sports teams to its credit and Salt Lake City is hoping to join them here soon.
Salt Lake City’s metro population though doesn’t really tell the whole story however as they draw significant support from the surrounding mountain region with most of Utah, south-eastern Idaho and south-western Wyoming all showing significant support for the Jazz at their home games and would be an untapped market for the city in the professional baseball game. The group titled “Big League Utah” led by Gail Miller the widow of Larry Miller the former owner of the Utah Jazz, has submitted a significant proposal to Major League Baseball for their pitch to bring a professional baseball team to Salt Lake City and as detailed by Sam Farnsworth in the interview the proposal was very in depth and well put together.
The biggest factor in all this as Farnsworth points out is the edition of the Larry H. Miller company and Gail Miller, the richest person in Utah and a person with a net worth of over $4 billion who obviously can flex some financial muscles with the needs of a professional baseball team and creating the options for footing some bills if needed which MLB has to like. Constantly petitioning cities to help fund new facilities, stadiums, or other expenses for pro sports teams is often a headache for a lot of leagues and having wealthy owners is always a great negotiation tool.
Another factor in all this is the groups already in-place property plans that have already been signed on and are breaking ground-ready at a moments notice as well as a contractor-approved blue print for a stadium build that was all included in the presentation which will go a long way in their battle against other cities who are also competing for the potential expansion in the near future for the MLB. As discussed in the interview the MLB is adamant they want to make sure they sure up what’s happening with the A’s and Rays before they go forward with talk of any expansion but with the A’s having just signed their deal for a large property in Las Vegas and are now planning to begin building shortly to kick off their eventual move to the Sin City only Tampa Bay and their stadium and fan engagement issues remain on MLB’s plate before the discussions of expansion can resume.
Farnsworth also believes that if MLB decides to add one team, much like the other major sports in their most recent expansions, that they would want to go for an even number of expansions, likely adding 2 teams rather than just 1 to bring the league’s total to 32 teams which obviously doubles Salt Lake’s chances of being selected. Things definitely feel like they are moving in the right direction for Salt Lake City Major League Baseball in the coming seasons though as Sam points out it would be a several year process once approved so fans hoping to have a new local team here soon may need to show some patience in the process.
It may be a slightly longer shot but the group led by Gail Miller and the Larry H. Miller Company is also hoping to add professional hockey to the mix in Salt Lake City as well, but this may be something that could require a purchase of an established franchise and a move, the Arizona Coyotes perhaps, as the NHL is not currently entertaining pitches for expansion. You can catch the full interview with Sam Farnsworth just below: