LOCAL NEWS

If Salt Lake City gets a big league baseball team, what should it be called?

Jan 11, 2024, 10:10 AM

The Salt Lake Bees play at Smith’s Ballpark in Salt Lake City on Sept. 7, 2023. What would be a g...

The Salt Lake Bees play at Smith’s Ballpark in Salt Lake City on Sept. 7, 2023. What would be a good name for a new MLB franchise if it ever came to Utah? (Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret News)

(Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret News)

The baseball season is long over but spring training is right around the corner. So what better time to speculate on potential major league expansion sites and, more specifically, on possible team names, uniforms and color schemes?

For that, some have turned to artificial intelligence.

This week, a website called Solitaire Bliss crafted names, jerseys and mascots for more than 40 cities worldwide without an MLB, NBA, NHL or MLS team using the AI language model ChatGPT and the AI image-generator Stable Diffusion XL. Salt Lake City was included for both baseball and hockey.

The name and colors AI generated for a Salt Lake City baseball team wasn’t all that creative. Name: Bees. Colors: Black and yellow. Sound familiar? The Los Angeles Angels’ Triple-A affiliate has been known as the Salt Lake Bees since 2006.

The AI-generated mascot is called Stinger. The Bees’ current mascot is known as Bumble.

Here’s what Solitaire Bliss had to say:

“The Salt Lake City Bees celebrate Utah’s emblematic beehive symbol and its moniker as ‘The Beehive State.’ Their mascot, Stinger, is delightful AND enthusiastic, with plush yellow-and-black stripes and friendly, oversized eyes that immediately endear this mascot to fans.

“Stinger’s cheerful appearance captures the industrious and community-focused spirit of a beehive, reflecting the teamwork and unity central to both the state of Utah and the sport of baseball. As Salt Lake City is whispered to be a potential addition to the MLB, Stinger is set to rally the crowd, capturing the collective buzz of anticipation for the city’s future in the big leagues.”

AI was a little more creative when it came to an NHL team. How does Salt Lake City Blizzard sound? (Might be fitting with how the snow is flying this week.) The polar bear mascot is called Icy.

Here’s what Solitaire Bliss says about that:

“The Salt Lake City Blizzard reflects the fierce snowstorms characteristic of the region. Icy the Polar Bear, their mascot, stands on the ice in a cool blue jersey, embodying the wintry spirit of the team. With paws ready, Icy represents the resilience and endurance needed to thrive in the NHL’s competitive climate. As Salt Lake City is whispered to be in line for an NHL team, Icy the Polar Bear is poised to become the face of a team that aims to embody the relentless force of a blizzard in every match.”

Two different ownership groups are pursuing MLB and NHL franchises for Utah.

Led by the Larry H. Miller Company, a coalition of prominent business and community leaders calling itself Big League Utah is making a case for one of the two possible expansion teams. LHM formerly owned the Utah Jazz and continues to own the Salt Lake Bees, which will move from Salt Lake City to a new ballpark in South Jordan in 2025.

Ryan Smith, who now owns the Utah Jazz, wants to bring an NHL team to the state. Smith has said “Utah is ripe for it” when it comes to its readiness to host a successful future NHL team. He tweeted last year that efforts were “in motion.”

Possible names for an MLB team in Salt Lake City that have floated around social media include throwbacks to previous minor league teams such as Trappers, Gulls and Stingers. Online suggestions also include Copperwings, Golden Spikes, Cutthroats, Pioneers and Saints.

Others have also used AI to create uniforms for a Utah team, and posted them on X, formerly known as Twitter. Here are a few examples:

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If Salt Lake City gets a big league baseball team, what should it be called?