Salt Lake Bees break ground, release designs of new Daybreak stadium

Oct 19, 2023, 4:37 PM | Updated: 6:54 pm

SOUTH JORDAN — Work is now officially underway on the Salt Lake Bees’ new “hive,” as a part of a major shift for the future of South Jordan’s Daybreak community.

Utah Gov. Spencer Cox and other state leaders joined Larry H. Miller Company and Los Angeles Angels executives Thursday afternoon to ceremonially break ground on a new 7,500-seat ballpark that will house the Angels’ Triple-A minor league club, and serve as the center focus of the first phase of Downtown Daybreak.

Barring any unforeseen circumstances, the new ballpark remains on track to open in time for Pacific Coast League play in the spring of 2025, said Steve Starks, CEO of Larry H. Miller Company, which owns the team and the land that is to be developed. It will be a part of the first phase of the new urban core, which will also include a new Megaplex cinema-entertainment center along with mixed-use development.

“It means a lot,” Starks said, moments after he and several other dignitaries used baseball bat-shaped shovels to turn dirt and symbolize the beginning of construction. “I think the community is so excited about what this means for Downtown Daybreak, the southwest part of Salt Lake County and really the state as a whole.”

A new home for the Bees

Thursday’s massive ceremony essentially marked the beginning of massive new development to the northwest of the Daybreak community core, as much as it did for the Salt Lake Bees.

It was also the first time the team’s owners have unveiled much about the new stadium since they announced in January that the team will move from Smith’s Ballpark in Salt Lake City onto land the Miller Company owns in southwest Salt Lake County.

The ballpark, which will be located between Mountain View Corridor and Grandville Avenue from east to west, and between Big Sur Drive and Lake Avenue from north to south, will hold up to 7,500 people through various options, including club and field-level seating and open-lawn seating. Starks said fans will be closer to home plate than the pitcher as a part of the fan experience.

The ballpark is set to have several concession options, event spaces and “family-friendly gathering areas,” including a new alcohol-free zone. The team’s owners promise that the new Daybreak stadium will continue to offer picturesque views of the Wasatch Mountains much like the iconic Smith’s Ballpark backdrop.

“As we’ve gone out and talked to fans and residents and the community broadly, what we heard is that they want it to be accessible, they wanted views of the mountains (and) they wanted it to be in a mixed-use development with dining options,” Starks said. “And then there’s a segment of our community who wanted to be able to come to a game and sit down in an alcohol-free zone as a family and enjoy the baseball game in that way.”

Starks adds that tickets will remain close to about $10. There are plans in place to have programming and activities during the offseason to keep the area active once the ballpark opens.

Larry H. Miller Company announced a new partnership with America First Credit Union during Thursday’s ceremony, which includes naming rights for the sports and entertainment plaza the stadium will be located in. The official name of the stadium is yet to be announced.

The new ballpark will also have plenty of state-of-the-art amenities for the players in the Angels system, which is what Salt Lake Bees manager Keith Johnson is thrilled about. The new facility will feature improved batting cages and other tools aimed at getting players to the big leagues.

“It’s going to be awesome,” he told KSL.com after the event. “It’s kind of a big deal with the amount of people involved in it.”

More than a ballpark

The ballpark isn’t the only feature of the forthcoming Downtown Daybreak. The Miller Company, which owns Megaplex, announced that it will build a cinema-entertainment center too, which blends the traditional movie theater with up to 10 screens with several other entertainment features. The plan calls for it to hold as many as 20 “luxury” bowling lanes, arcade games, a sports-themed lounge, private dining and an event space.

Both facilities are meant to serve as early anchors to a nearly 200-acre mixed-use development in the Daybreak community. This new downtown core is included in a master plan that was drawn out more than two decades ago.

This new core will be a “walkable, bikeable and transit-connected regional hub” that will bring new housing, jobs and entertainment options to the fast-growing section of Salt Lake County, Larry H. Miller Real Estate officials say. The overall plan includes a new light-rail station near the new Bees ballpark, also set to open in 2025.

South Jordan Mayor Dawn Ramsey, sporting a Bees jersey, said all the new development, especially the housing, will also be “significant” for the future of the city, potentially chipping away at the growing cost of living along the Wasatch Front.

“(It) marks a renewed commitment to the origin vision conceived in the early 2000s,” she said. “The growth that we’ve experienced in Utah is significant and South Jordan is at the forefront of this demographic shift.”

What about Salt Lake City?

Baseball may not be dead in Salt Lake City once the Bees depart for Daybreak at the end of the 2024 season, if business leaders, city and state officials get their way. They’re backing a push led by the Miller Company to bring a Major League Baseball expansion franchise to Utah, with a preferred site in Salt Lake City’s west side.

There are no new developments in that effort, Starks reiterated Thursday.

There also aren’t many new updates on what Salt Lake City plans to do with Smith’s Ballpark. Salt Lake City Mayor Erin Mendenhall told KSL.com earlier in the day that the city remains on its original timeline regarding its exact plan for the stadium.

Shortly after announcing plans for the Daybreak ballpark, Gail Miller, co-founder of the Miller Company, pledged to help the city’s Ballpark neighborhood with a $100 million fundraising partnership. The mayor said that more announcements regarding that partnership will be announced in the coming months as well.

While it’s possible that construction on a new project to replace the ballpark could begin immediately after the Bees leave at the end of September next year, she said the city is also committed to finding the perfect replacement for Bees’ old hive. That means there could be some sort of “interim activation” between its current and future uses while the city plans the future of the land.

“We want to have the ballpark (space) activated as fast as possible after the Bees stop playing in there. We also want to have a really good process,” she said. “It’s our ambition that the ballpark is activated and never sits blighted.”

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Salt Lake Bees break ground, release designs of new Daybreak stadium