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Creating A Community Asset


The University of Utah baseball team is on its way to having a ballpark of its own on our campus. For nearly three decades, the team has shared Smith's Ballpark with the Salt Lake Bees. However, in January 2023, plans were announced for the Bees to move and build a new stadium in South Jordan. This change presented an opportunity for us to accelerate our pursuit of an on-campus home for Utah Baseball, which we've been pursuing for nearly 10 years.

In November 2023, the U's Athletics Department and America First Credit Union announced a multi-year partnership to name the Utah baseball program's future on-campus home America First Ballpark. Join us in the excitement of ushering in a new era of baseball right in the heart of our campus.

Come to Our Community Open House

Date & time: Wed, Aug 28 from 6-8 p.m.

Location: On the corner of the practice field site on Guardsman Way

Agenda: We'll share the new designs for the ballpark.
Representatives will be present from the architectural firm, construction
company, planning department and Athletics to answer questions.

Snacks: Cold drinks, peanuts and Cracker Jacks

 

The America First Ballpark will be located on Guardsman Way at the site of the current Utah Baseball practice field. It will have a maximum capacity of 1,200 seats. (For comparison, the Smith’s Ballpark has 14,511 seats). Some of the proposed amenities and offerings for the U's new ballpark include:

  • Ticketing, restrooms, concessions, merchandise sales
  • Team facilities such as lockers, showers, medical space, equipment storage, coach’s office, indoor batting/pitching cages
  • Media services such as TV and radio broadcast space, food area, restrooms
  • Outdoor areas including the playing field, bullpens, and entry plazas

Left: aerial photo of existing practice field on Guardsman Way. Right: rendering of new ballpark in same location (final design may differ due to changes during the design process). 

Our vision reaches beyond providing a venue for our team. We want the America First Ballpark to be a community asset that complements Sunnyside Park and the surrounding area. It's an opportunity to bring people together, foster a love for baseball, and create lasting memories for fans of all ages.

FAQ


  • In early July, the university began erecting temporary fencing around the property it currently owns to prepare for construction of the ballpark. The university and Salt Lake City have agreed upon lease terms for an additional strip of land and are diligently working together on next steps (see question in FAQ).

    At the August 28 open house, the U will share final ballpark designs and will have representatives from the architectural firm, construction company, university planning department, and Athletics present to answer questions. In the meantime, if you need to report issues as construction begins, please call the University of Utah Facilities 24-hour line at 801-581-7221, or call Associate Director Stacia Worndle at 385-460-6654.

    As construction moves forward, we will provide more information about plans and designs once finalized. If you’d like to receive future community updates from the U, please email community@utah.edu. 

  • The field surface at the America First Ballpark is expected to be available for team practice only beginning in Spring 2025. The facility is anticipated to be completed for competition in the 2026 season. Timelines are contingent upon construction schedules.

  • Competition and practice venue options for Fall 2024 and Spring 2025 are being evaluated and will be announced by Utah Athletics once finalized.

  • While the university owns enough land to build the ballpark where the current practice field exists on Guardsman Way, a 35 ft. wall would be required to meet NCAA standards and the ballpark would be set very close to the sidewalk. To avoid having to build the wall in left field and to make space for a 20 ft. offset, the U has negotiated a lease agreement for 1.175 acres of Sunnyside Park.

    In exchange for the land lease, the U will provide the city with $4.2 million to improve and enhance the amenities and green spaces at Sunnyside Park. In addition, several of the ballpark facilities when not being used by the university will be available for rent by SLC, city residents and recreational groups.

    On March 5, 2024, the Salt Lake City Council approved the motion to move forward with the land lease agreement pending conversations with the Bureau of Land Management (a portion of the leased land was originally acquired by the city from the Federal Government).

    Both the city and the university agree that Sunnyside Park is a cherished communal space that warrants substantial investment and revitalization efforts. The rendering below is conceptual only, showing just one of many possibilities for the park. Any improvements made to Sunnyside Park will be at the direction of Salt Lake City, not the university. As part of that process, the city will offer its own community engagement opportunities.

  • In October 2023, the university sent more than 6,400 postcards to surrounding neighbors inviting them to take an online survey and/or attend an open house. Neighbors were asked to share input on the design of the ballpark, express any concerns, and provide feedback on how the ballpark could complement Sunnyside Park and the surrounding community.

    At the open house, architects and representatives from Athletics and the U's planning department were present to answer questions and discuss ideas. Architectural renderings of the ballpark designs were shown with various ways for people to provide input. Feedback received during that meeting, the survey, and via email is being incorporated into the architectural designs. One example that came out of those efforts is new designs with enhanced landscaping around the ballpark.

    Groundbreaking is planned for summer 2024. The architectural plans are still in design and will be updated on this site when finalized.

  • The university has been evaluating possible locations for a new ballpark on campus for nearly a decade and has looked at 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 the planning team 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
    • Visibility
    • Access to public transit
  • The University planning team wants to create a vibrant stadium with minimal neighborhood impacts. Here's how we'll address the needs of the community.

    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) and Rice-Eccles Stadium (1,196 Stalls)

  • 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 nearly 30 miles from the university. In its proposed location, the baseball team will be close to other shared athletics’ training and education facilities.

  • 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 currently draw 350 spectators.

Thank You for Your Input


Thank you to our U community and neighbors who took our ballpark survey and attended the open house last fall. We appreciate your thoughts and ideas on architectural design and ballpark amenities. New architectural renderings will be posted on this site when they are finalized. Thank you for helping us envision the future of Utah Baseball.

If you have additional questions or comments, please email ballpark@utah.edu.

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