Oakland Athletics’ focus is on new Daybreak stadium, LHM official says

The A’s are searching for a temporary home until their new Las Vegas stadium is built.

The Oakland Athletics could be eying a temporary move to Utah.

But Salt Lake City isn’t the target. Instead, the team is more likely to play its home games in the southwest corner of the valley, Big League Utah stakeholders say.

In search of a temporary home between the team’s move out of Oakland and the opening of its new Las Vegas stadium in 2028, executives from the A’s met with Larry H. Miller Company leaders in Utah on Thursday, touring the construction site of their new baseball stadium in Daybreak.

“We hosted team officials on Thursday, and demonstrated we can accommodate their ballpark needs,” Larry H. Miller Company CEO Steve Starks said in a statement. “Our organization and the state are excited and able to welcome the Athletics until their new stadium in Las Vegas is completed.”

LHM is building a new ballpark in South Jordan’s Daybreak neighborhood for the Triple-A Salt Lake Bees. But Starks said the ballpark, which is set to open in 2025, could first play host to the Major League Baseball club. The conversations between the Athletics and LHM centered on the team moving to Utah for all 81 home games of the 2025 through 2027 seasons.

“This new ballpark will support the A’s needs and has been the focus of their interest,” Starks said.

Starks said the A’s did not tour Smith’s Ballpark in Salt Lake City.

The Athletics’ lease in Oakland expires at the end of the 2024 season. But their new $1.5 billion ballpark on the current site of the Tropicana Hotel won’t be ready until 2028. Team officials are reportedly considering a number of possibilities, including extending the lease at the Coliseum, the Triple-A Aviators’ Las Vegas Ballpark, the Giants’ Oracle Park, the Reno Aces’ Greater Nevada Field.

Perhaps Utah’s greatest competition comes from Sacramento. A’s officials also toured that city’s Sutter Health Park on Thursday. But the deadline to figure out a home in 2025 is approaching, as MLB needs to know before they create the schedule for the 2025 season this July.

If the A’s were to settle on Daybreak as a destination, Starks said it would mean the Salt Lake Bees would likely continue to play at Smith’s Ballpark in Salt Lake City. “Our unique, two-stadium solution would ensure that baseball stays in the Salt Lake market as the Salt Lake Bees return to Smith’s Ballpark for additional seasons,” he said.

(The Larry H. Miller Company) The Salt Lake Bees broke ground on a new stadium in South Jordan's Daybreak neighborhood on Thursday, Oct. 19, 2023.

Playing at the other Triple-A stadiums in the West would likely mean a shared stadium between a major league and minor league team, presenting possible schedule difficulties.

Starks also touted planned features of the Daybreak ballpark that Salt Lake City’s Smith’s Ballpark can’t offer — including larger locker rooms for major league teams, dressing rooms for umpires and female coaches, training rooms, and batting cages for both home and visiting MLB teams.

Construction on the new stadium began in October. Original plans called for a 7,500-seat capacity. LHM, though, plans to add temporary structures to the stadium in recognition of the potential A’s move, should the site be selected, that would raise capacity to about 11,000. The park could be completely decked out in A’s colors as well, they say.

One year ago Wednesday, the Salt Lake Bees announced that they were leaving Smith’s Ballpark after the 2024 season for a new stadium out in the Daybreak development in the valley’s southwest corner. Since then, the city has been exploring possibilities for the ballpark and its land, but hasn’t announced a final decision.

A statement from Salt Lake City Mayor Erin Mendenhall’s office, though, touted the benefits of the A’s moving to Smith’s Ballpark in the capital city, not Daybreak. “Mayor Mendenhall has always said Salt Lake City is a big-league city and thinks Smith’s Ballpark would be a great temporary home for the A’s,” Andrew Wittenberg, spokesperson for the Salt Lake City Mayor’s Office, said in a statement, when asked about the A’s officials meeting.

“Even for a short time, MLB could be a catalytic element for the neighborhood. Mayor Mendenhall takes seriously her commitment to residents of the Ballpark neighborhood and is eager to move forward with a long-term strategy that prioritizes year-round activation of that property. We can’t comment on any ongoing conversations around Major League Baseball at this time, but very much look forward to the day when big-league baseball is being played in Salt Lake City.”

(Rick Egan | The Salt Lake Tribune) The Albuquerque Isotopes play the Salt Lake Bees at Smith's Ballpark, on Thursday, June 1, 2023.

Salt Lake County mayor Jenny Wilson released a statement supporting baseball in the county, no matter where it’s played.

“The Oakland A’s considering making Salt Lake County a temporary home is exciting,” the statement read. “They’ll get to see what we’ve known for a long time – Utah is a great spot for baseball. This is another chance to show Major League Baseball that we’re ready for the big leagues.”

Regardless of the Oakland executives’ final decision on their temporary home, the Millers are continuing their bid to bring a separate and permanent Major League Baseball expansion team to Salt Lake City in the future. They hope the A’s stay would serve as a successful audition for the area’s permanent baseball dreams.