Fundraising Drive Underway for On-Campus Baseball Stadium after Contingency Approval from Board of Trustees

SALT LAKE CITY—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 says 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 is 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 the 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 said 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 in the space we have designated.”

Factors that planners considered included:

  • Compatibility with on-going campus planning and growth
  • 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
  • visibility
  • Access to public transit

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 build 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 use with the community, will be a tremendous asset that benefits all levels of baseball in Salt Lake City.”

*stadium image is a rendering only; the final design may differ due to changes during the design process.
Presentation to University of Utah Board of Trustees