With the news that Salt Lake Bees will leave for Daybreak in the next couple of years, the University of Utah baseball team found itself without a home stadium. But on Tuesday, a new home for the Utes cleared a hurdle.
The university’s board of trustees voted to give a new baseball stadium at the U. “contingency approval.” A fundraising drive is already underway for the project estimated to cost $35 million. The stadium will be mostly paid for by donations, according to a university news release.
“I’d like to thank the Trustees for their approval to move forward with this important project to support our baseball program with a stadium on our campus,” Athletic Director Mark Harlan said in the release. “We have incredible engagement from donors, and we are actively working to reach our fundraising goals.”
The proposed new stadium for the Utes would be constructed on Guardsman Way and replace the baseball practice field that currently exists. It is slated to be completed by the start of the 2025 season.
“The goal and purpose for this location on Guardsman Way is that it provides the most beneficial site for our baseball program and our fans,” Harlan said. “For our student-athletes it is situated in close proximity to other Athletics facilities, including our dining facility in the Spence and Cleone Eccles Football Center, and for our fans it provides ample parking and ease of access on game days.”
The new stadium will have a capacity of 1,200, equal to stadiums at Loyola Marymount and Sacramento State, per an informational document provided to the board.
“Based on average attendance at Smith’s Ballpark and accounting for an increase for an on-campus stadium, a capacity of 1,200 will put Utah in a prime position to capitalize on ticket sales revenue while also creating a competitive homefield advantage,” the document states.
The average attendance at Smith’s Ballpark for Utah games was 320, per the document.
The document also states games will be played at “low-traffic times,” and fans would be able to park at the Guardsman Way Lot or lots closer to Rice-Eccles Stadium.
The Utes played at Smith’s Ballpark since 1996. A new stadium for the Bees is projected to open in South Jordan in time for the 2025 season, making it necessary for Utah to find a new home due to the old stadium’s possible demolition.
“We’re very appreciative of the terrific partnership we have enjoyed for nearly three decades with the Salt Lake Bees and the City for our baseball program to play its home games at Smith’s Ballpark,” Harlan said. “This is also a tremendous opportunity for us to finalizing our quest to find an on-campus home for Utah Baseball that has been pursued for nearly 10 years.”
In other news, the board also approved Tuesday to replace the lockers in the football practice facility. The project is estimated to cost $1.6 million and will be funded by the athletic department.