A fundraising drive to construct an on-campus baseball stadium at the University of Utah is underway following a decision Tuesday by the university’s Board of Trustees that grants contingency approval for the project. The proposed stadium would be built on Guardsman Way at the site of the current Utah Baseball practice field, and could open as early as 2025.
“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,” said Director of Athletics Mark Harlan. “We have incredible engagement from donors, and we are actively working to reach our fundraising goals.”
The team has shared Smith’s Ballpark in downtown Salt Lake City with the Salt Lake Bees minor league baseball team as its primary home park since 1996.
In January 2023, Bees ownership announced plans to move the team and build a new stadium in South Jordan. Salt Lake City is currently in the process of evaluating plans for the future of the site on which the stadium currently stands, including the possible demolition of Smith’s Ballpark after the Bees’ final season in 2024.
“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,” said Harlan. “This is also a tremendous opportunity for us to finalize our quest to find an on-campus home for Utah Baseball that has been pursued for nearly 10 years.”
Harlan said plans for the stadium call for a capacity of 1,200 with fan amenities including concessions, restrooms and ticketing offices, as well as team facilities including locker rooms, team spaces and coaches’ offices. The total project is expected to cost $35 million, with the majority of the funding privately raised.
The university has been evaluating potential sites for a new ballpark on campus for nearly a decade. The process began with as many as eight potential sites, narrowed to five by a study in 2019, including two locations on Guardsman Way.
“The goal and purpose for this location on Guardsman Way are that it provides the most beneficial site for our baseball program and our fans,” Harlan continued. “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.”
Robin Burr, the university’s chief facilities officer, affirms that the proposed location is in alignment with keeping the campus sporting venues located along two key corridors—central campus and Guardsman Way. The university is sensitive to concerns raised by the community during previous planning sessions and is working to address issues related to traffic and parking, noise, field lighting and safety. Utah Baseball hosts approximately 22-24 home games during a typical season, from March through May. Generally, half of those games are played in the evening.
Burr says community feedback from previous planning sessions about the stadium informed the design process. “Noise, light, safety and traffic have been the consistent concerns raised, and our design addresses each of these factors. This new design is also scaled back from proposals and fits nicely on the space we have designated.”
The ultimate vision for the facility, Harlan says, is that the ballpark becomes a community asset.
“We look forward to working with our neighborhood partners to construct the best facility for our program, our fans, nearby residents and Salt Lake City,” Harlan added. “Providing a turf baseball field in Salt Lake City, intended for joint usage with the community, will be a tremendous asset that benefits all levels of baseball in Salt Lake City.”
*stadium image is a rendering only; final design may differ due to changes during the design process.
University of Utah Proposed Baseball Stadium FAQ
The University of Utah Baseball Team will have a home of its own on campus—potentially as early as the 2025 season—based on plans presented to the university’s Board of Trustees on April 11.
The team has shared Smith’s Ballpark in downtown Salt Lake City with the Salt Lake Bees minor league baseball team since 1996. Early in 2023, the Bees’ owners announced they would move the team and build a new stadium in South Jordan. Salt Lake City is currently in the process of reimagining how to use the land which could involve demolishing the existing stadium.
As the planning and fundraising process moves forward, the university will keep the campus community and Salt Lake City neighborhoods around campus informed and involved.
Here are the most frequently asked questions:
What other sites were considered?
The university has been evaluating possible locations for a new ballpark on campus for nearly a decade and has looked at as many as eight potential sites. A study in 2019 narrowed the sites down to five, including locations on central campus, south campus, the university’s West Village and two locations on Guardsman Way.
While the first choice was the central campus location, that site was selected as the home for the U’s new Impact & Prosperity Epicenter living-learning facility which will open in 2024. Ultimately, the location of the team’s current practice facility on Guardsman Way was determined to be the next best site.
Factors that planners considered included:
- Compatibility with ongoing campus planning and growth
- Meeting student housing needs
- Preserving an exceptional student experience
- Site buildability (not requiring extensive relocation of existing facilities)
- Proximity to parking in campus lots immediately north of the stadium
- Access to other Utah Athletics facilities
- Access to public transit
How will the university address light, noise, safety and traffic concerns?
Safety – Netting will be installed to contain foul balls, just as it is currently in place along the right field line of the team’s practice field on Guardsman Way.
Noise — New berms at the outfield will help contain noise. A modern, distributed audio system will focus sound into the stadium.
Field Lighting — Lighting will be designed in a way that reduces spill beyond the stadium.
Traffic and Parking — Games will generally occur at low-traffic times on evenings and weekends. Parking will be available at two adjacent campus lots immediately north of the stadium site:
- Guardsman Way: 869 Stalls
- Rice-Eccles Stadium: 1,196 Stalls
Why couldn’t the team continue sharing space with the Salt Lake Bees at their new facility?
This idea was considered and certainly has merits. However, after careful consideration, the merits of having the team on campus outweighed the advantages of sharing space at a location a long distance from the university. In its proposed location, the baseball team will be close to other shared athletics’ training and education facilities.
Why didn’t the U buy Smith’s Ballpark?
There wasn’t an option to buy the facility. While sharing the facility with a minor league baseball team was an effective use of Smith’s Ballpark, ultimately the space was larger than the university would have needed on its own. Smith’s Ballpark has 14,511 seats. On average, University of Utah baseball games draw 350 spectators.
MEDIA & PR CONTACTS
Senior Assoc. A.D. for Strategic Communications
(801) 875-2444 firstname.lastname@example.org