Utah Legislature moving to help bring an MLB team to Utah

Jan 18, 2024, 10:58 PM | Updated: Jan 19, 2024, 1:22 pm

Rep. Ryan Wilcox holding a baseball at the State Capitol....

Rep. Ryan Wilcox holding a baseball at the State Capitol. (KSL TV)


SALT LAKE CITY — The effort to bring a major league baseball team to Utah is getting a legislative boost by way of a bill yet to be made public and a resolution that is on its way to a full Senate vote.

“Utah is ready for Major League Baseball,” said Dale Murphy, two time-MVP and former MLB player who’s a member of Big League Utah — the coalition to bring a major league team to the Beehive State.

Murphy confirmed exclusively to KSL TV that if a team comes to Utah, the first half of its name will be “Utah,” with the second half of the name not decided on yet. The team’s name will not start with Salt Lake City, Wasatch, or any other region in Utah, with Salt Lake’s west side being the epicenter of the planned MLB hub.

“I’ll put it this way … it will be a name that will fit and will become a part of the fabric of the fans,” he said.

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

Murphy was at the Capitol Thursday, along with Gail Miller of the Larry H. Miller Group, who both testified before a senate committee on a resolution supporting bringing MLB to Utah.

That’s the first of two moves being made with the legislature to support MLB expansion to the state.

Forthcoming bill creates a ‘mechanism’ to help fund the stadium site

The other is a yet-to-be-made public bill that will help fund the 100-acre site, including a stadium and efforts to revitalize the area of the Rocky Mountain Power District on North Temple.

Rep. Ryan Wilcox, R-Ogden, and Sen. Lincoln Fillmore, R-SLC, said details of the policy piece were still being negotiated. They explained broadly that part of the bill will “likely” use some form of tax increment financing.

Simply put, the city designates an area to be redeveloped. By bringing a big attraction like a stadium, the gains on future revenue of the project, or some portion of them, could then be reinvested into revitalize the area.

“That goes just to repay the public investment so that there’s, you know, the people of Utah are supporting a team without risking (public money),” Fillmore said.

Community coalition pushes for MLB team in Fairpark neighborhood

Fillmore, Wilcox and others involved in the discussions, including a spokesperson for the Larry H. Miller Group, say they are working collaboratively with Salt Lake City to ensure the city’s revenue needs are still met.

“We want to ensure that city and county services and amenities are bolstered through this project,” said Amanda Covington, Larry H. Miller company chief corporate affairs officer. The project area will include jobs, housing options, office, retail, restaurants, open space and entertainment,” she said. She added they want it to be an “economic engine” for the area.

“The planned legislation would create a mechanism for economic development and help accelerate and prepare improvements to the area in anticipation of a team,” her statement added.

“So you’re talking like 1.8 billion, a lot of money to, to build a stadium,” said Wilcox. “And we’re also talking about way more than the stadium in the larger projects. We’re talking about long-term protection of the state fairpark investments there. We’re talking about across the street in the neighborhood in general. And it’s 100 acres plus that we have right now,” he said.

Wilcox expects the bill to be made public next week. For now, the buzz of MLB in Utah has made its way to Capitol Hill.

“People are excited for Utah to be finally recognized for what it’s been for so long — which is a major league city,” Fillmore said.

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Utah Legislature moving to help bring an MLB team to Utah