‘The Sandlot’ is a beloved piece of Salt Lake’s past. Its future is less certain.

The lot on Glenrose Drive in Glendale has drawn tourists and anniversary celebrations. But 30 years after the film’s release, the lot remains a “dirt patch” without a sure future.

There’s a scene in the 1993 film “The Sandlot” where the dog, Hercules, is chasing Benny, the main character. As he’s sprinting for his life, Benny almost runs into a bicyclist and spins around onto the hood of a car in the process. Hercules, close behind, leaps onto the hood of the car in chase.

The scene cuts to an old woman wearing glasses and an elaborate flower hat propping herself up over the steering wheel while letting out a yelp.

To Glendale resident Dustin Evans, that woman was grandma.

And the lot at the center of the cult classic film is home.

“The Sandlot” was filmed in various parts of Utah during the summer of 1992. Much of the production centered in a dirt lot behind several houses on Glenrose Drive in the Glendale neighborhood of Salt Lake City. The lot is shared by the owners of those houses.

But how to preserve and showcase this piece of Salt Lake and baseball history has been a question without a real answer in the 30 years since the film was released.

“We’ve had a lot of people try to buy these properties as a whole because this would be a big chunk of property that they could turn into another old folks home or apartments or whatever,” Evans said.

A screenshot of a scene in "The Sandlot" where the grandmother of a current Glendale resident appears.

The Glendale area has seen a rise in population and development in recent years, and some residents are concerned the neighborhood is losing its character as a result. Neighbors of the Sandlot celebrate its cultural significance to the community and want it to remain a part of the neighborhood’s fabric.

But some fear that could be difficult over time.

“The thing about the Sandlot that makes it interesting is that it is private property,” said Turner Bitton, chair of the Glendale Community Council who lives four houses down from the lot. “Unless there’s action taken to preserve and protect it — kind of capture that cultural significance — we could lose it very rapidly.”

Many of the original homeowners have moved or died. But Evans, who was 13 when the movie was filmed, lives in his grandparents’ house now.

Evans remembers he and his younger brother trying to get a part in the film and being asked by the film crew to duck because they were peeking at production from behind their fence. He remembers the crew building house facades and the famous treehouse, and stapling fake leaves onto trees.

Sue Kelson Butcher’s family has lived across the street from the Sandlot for decades. Her connection to the filming is someone who turned out to be tied to the movie bought a chain from a yard sale her father, Dell Kelson, was having. That chain ended up in the film, fastened to Hercules.

“I get a kick out of telling people that the movie was filmed across the street from my mom and dad’s house,” Butcher said.

Steve Lefler lives in one of the houses that owns a piece of the Sandlot and has lived there for a few years. The recent 30th-anniversary celebration of the movie and its filming was the first he’s witnessed as a resident.

Hundreds of people showed up on a toasty Saturday afternoon and waited in line for autographs and photos with many of the cast members from the film, including Patrick Renna (Hamilton “Ham” Porter), Chauncey Leopardi (Michael “Squints” Palledorous) and Shane Obedinski (Tommy “Repeat” Timmons). The event included a question-and-answer session with the cast and an outdoor screening of the movie.

Lefler said he’s had people from Colorado to New Zealand knocking on his door asking to see the Sandlot. He lets them back there gladly.

“I’m good with it,” Lefler said. “I support it. I welcome it.”

Bitton thinks it would be a good idea to find a way to preserve the Sandlot. One of his ideas is to make it some sort of tourist destination so when people visit it throughout the year, it’s more clear that it is a famous filming location.

“Right now, it’s kind of just a dirt patch,” Bitton said.

(Alex Vejar | The Salt Lake Tribune) A replica of the Sandlot from the 1993 film of the same name sits behind Hook & Ladder Co., a diner in the Glendale neighborhood of Salt Lake City.

A nearby diner, Hook & Ladder Co., is trying to preserve the Sandlot’s memory in its own way. Behind the business sits a smaller replica version of the baseball field featured in the movie, complete with dugouts and wooden signs behind home plate. A shed features quotes from the film painted on it.

Salt Lake City Council member Alejandro Puy grew up in Argentina watching “The Sandlot” in Spanish. When he moved to Utah, he was pleasantly surprised to learn that one of his favorite movies was filmed in his neighborhood.

Puy stressed that the Sandlot is private property, and there are no current plans for the city to buy that land and turn it into something else. But he did say that development in Glendale and other areas of the west side of SLC is a “balancing act” between addressing what’s been neglected for years and new projects.

Puy added that he would support a preservation effort.

“Certainly, if the community wants us to do something with this, I will certainly push for the protection of it,” Puy said.

Evans understands the value of his house and the adjacent ones. But as long as he lives there, he said, he doesn’t want to see the Sandlot go away.

“I don’t have plans of ever selling,” Evans said.

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