An amphitheater, an urban market, a library, home to a new incarnation of the Salt Lake Trappers or — maybe — the site of an enormous baseball-shaped Ferris wheel.
Those are just a few of the ideas submitted to the Ballpark Next competition Salt Lake City officials launched in the wake of news that the Salt Lake Bees would leave Utah’s capital after the 2024 season.
After the team announced its departure, Mayor Erin Mendenhall didn’t hesitate to set her sights on the future, urging residents, college students and development professionals to share their ideas for the stadium site in the design competition.
Mendenhall has said she wants whatever replaces the Bees at West Temple and 1300 South to bring, above anything else, energy to the neighborhood 365 days a year, not just during a baseball season.
The mayor’s office hopes to issue an official request for development proposals as soon as this year. There’s no guarantee that the winner of the Ballpark Next competition will inform the final development.
The submission period for the competition wrapped in March and, last week, the city revealed nine finalists — three from each category of applicants. Public voting on finalists began May 16 and will continue until Thursday, with winners announced May 31.
Victors in the three categories will split $30,000 in prize money.
We scoured every submission — nearly 140 documents in all — for the most creative, most ambitious and most whimsical ideas.
To see all of the original submissions, click here. We plucked a handful to highlight below.
First up: a few of the finalists
She Plays Here Ballpark
A group led by Maven District envisions the site as a hub for locally owned small businesses anchored by a women’s multisport venue. Maven District teamed up with Colmena Group and Kimball Investment Co. to stitch together the plan.
The coalition envisions leaving the ballpark structure up but converting the playing surface to a rectangular field, leaving enough space in the right field corner to construct a softball stadium. The site would also host a festival street on West Temple, a library on Main Street, space for food trucks, and a development across 1300 South with offices, shops, a day care, a business incubator, green space, and a parking structure with a green rooftop.
Utahn Oscar Arvizu proposed SKYGARDEN, a concept that uses the stadium’s existing footprint to build ground-floor shops and restaurants with an elevated park above. A large biodome would occupy the outfield and be open year-round. The park would accommodate multiple uses, such as concerts and festivals. Because the structure would occupy essentially the same space as the original stadium, Arvizu says his proposal may be able to use some of the existing ballpark.
Utah State University landscape architecture students Nicholas Tate Barney, Jacob Owen Huff and Logan Hall pitched “The Ballpark,” which would leave the stadium intact and repurpose it to house shops and restaurants. The infield would become a courtyard, and the outfield would host a walking trail/ice-skating ribbon along with a sunken garden. A pedestrian bridge would connect the repurposed stadium with a residential development across 1300 South called “The Dugout.”
What didn’t make the cut
The return of the Salt Lake Trappers?
“We agree with Mayor Mendenhall that it should be a multiuse facility,” Baggott wrote. “Synthetic turf would allow for baseball, football, soccer, softball, etc. The outfield grass berms are not needed, allowing for additional room for development such as: distillery, apartments, restaurants, retail, etc.”
A focus on open space
Atlas Architects, a Central Ninth-based firm, deliberately left out housing from its proposal, saying there are plenty of opportunities for affordable and market-rate homes and that density only works when there is open space to support it.
The firm’s proposal prioritized that open space in both the ballpark site and the city-owned parcel to the north. The existing stadium structure would remain but the playing field would include a stage and nature park. The project would feature urban agriculture, a half-mile trail loop, and a resurfacing of the creeks that currently flow under the area.
Development professionals Nick Gochnour and Dixon Wong’s Shatter SLC concept completely reimagines the site with a project that could host outdoor markets and “a concert venue to rival USANA [Amphitheatre].” The proposal calls for creating housing; a recreation center, complete with climbing gym and indoor pickleball courts; a homeless resource center; and spaces for retail and cultural uses.
A community recreation center
Utah Valley University students Kevin Hart, Eric Burton, Kent Miller, Yan-ho Ng and Alexia Trapier would do away with the existing stadium and build a walkable complex featuring offices, retail buildings, single-family homes, multifamily homes and a rec center.
A completely different approach
Architecture firm Cho & Urano describes its proposal for the site as “a community center on steroids” and calls for maintaining an aspect of the stadium’s architectural character. Half the building would be open to hosting different types of activities and events. Other sections would be able to house shops, restaurants and offices. The ballpark site and northern parcel across 1300 South would be linked by an underground walkway.
A place to honor Utah’s sports history
Utah resident Cameron McCleary submitted a proposal to create a Utah sports museum on the ballpark site.
“This ‘mini hall of fame’ would bring sports fans and history buffs from all around,” McCleary wrote, “to see original floor boards from the first Utah Jazz court, retired jerseys of college legends like Jimmer Fredette, Alex Smith and so many more.”
A new namesake?
A team made up of architect Josh Stewart, transportation planner Ryan Park and businessman Andrew Stewart called for exposing Red Butte, Emigration and Parleys creeks in the neighborhood to symbolize renewal and inspire a new name for the area — Three Creeks. The walkable neighborhood would feature a library and public square.
An enormous baseball
Sure, Temple Square is iconic, but it’s not a giant baseball-shaped Ferris wheel. If Seattle gets to have the Space Needle and New York gets the Statue of Liberty, Utahns Michael and Cheri Milne think Salt Lake City should get its own landmark.
Enter “The Baseball,” a slow-moving attraction, akin to the London Eye, that lifts riders in pods to give them a new perspective of downtown and the sweeping mountain view enjoyed by Bees fans for decades. Leave the stadium up and repurpose it for a sense of nostalgia or tear it down to show off The Baseball in all its glory.
Year-round skiing, anyone?
Resident Bryce Hinckley says Salt Lake City is the perfect location for a year-round skiing experience. And the ballpark site, he wrote in his submission, is the perfect spot for his proposal, Skisons.
The complex could feature indoor and outdoor slopes with an artificial ski surface in the summer and natural and machine-generated snow in the winter. It could have ski jump pools, lessons, rental and gift shops, a lodge, restaurant, hotel, museum and, hey, maybe even training venues for the U.S. Ski and Snowboard Team.
Adam LeBlanc and Frank Feng’s Honeycomb Central concept would keep the ballpark standing but retrofit it for a variety of uses, including a bike shop, sledding hill, amphitheater, library, day care, greenhouse and museum.
A huge community garden
Mehli Romero’s submission calls for transforming the playing field of the ballpark into a community garden and playground. The project would also feature a skate park, exterior rock climbing area, running and walking track, dog park, and areas for farmers markets, food trucks and picnics. The parcel north of the ballpark would host low-income housing.
University of Utah students Naren Anandh, Mason Chavez, Maryam Ebrahimnezhadhaghighi, Yong Beom Kim and Haany Samimi imagine the parcel north of the ballpark being home to a gym, co-working space, urban market and play area for kids. The stadium would survive and host a recreational ball field, tennis courts, an ice skating area and a skate plaza. Food courts would also be built on the site.
Dan Teed’s vision for the site, BaseCamp, leaves the stadium walls up but retrofits the building into a mall for the Outdoor Retailer trade show with ground-floor shops. Beyond the outfield walls would be an affordable housing development and public library.
An elevated park would tie the ballpark site to the parcel north of 1300 South, where Teed proposed building a food hall, climbing gym and co-working space.
Editor’s note • Tessa Arneson, founder and CEO of Maven District, is a member of the nonprofit Salt Lake Tribune’s board of directors. This story is available to Salt Lake Tribune subscribers only. Thank you for supporting local journalism.