Salt Lake City, Utah continues to be brought up as a part of this sports league’s expansion plans.
Salt Lake City, Utah has been the proud home of the Jazz since 1979 after relocating from New Orleans. Since then, the franchise has been home to some of the best fans in the NBA, showing how successful a small market can really be when supporting a sports team. Now, there might be some interest gaining in bringing another professional team to the city.
This comes after a recent interest to bring a baseball franchise to the city from the group that previously owned the Utah Jazz, the Miller family. The Millers will look to team up with various Utah politicians, investors, and celebrities supporting the idea.
According to the Salt Lake Tribune, Gail Miller, owner of Larry H. Miller Co., had this to say about their hopes:
"“We believe in the power of sports to elevate and unify communities…Larry and I risked everything to acquire the Utah Jazz, and it was a tremendous honor to ensure it thrived as a model franchise. We now have an opportunity to welcome Major League Baseball to Utah and invite all Utahns to join us in this effort.”"
Utah currently has a Triple-A baseball team with the Salt Lake Bees, however after a recent announcement of the team’s relocation to Daybreak, this could open the gates for a major league team to instead call the city home. Especially with MLB Commissioner, Rob Manfred’s, open support of expansion soon coming to the league, this is some of the best opportunities we’ll see for the city to host a baseball team.
The question then becomes if Utah could properly support a major league team. Salt Lake City would enter the MLB as one of the smallest markets in the league, and most likely struggle to compete with some of the bigger markets and payrolls in the league, like the Yankees or the Dodgers.
But, if the franchise could find stable and competent leadership in the front office and ownership, we could absolutely see a successful franchise in Salt Lake City.
As far as fan support goes, the Jazz’s track record of success in Salt Lake City indicates that there should be little concern about a lack of interest.
Even in a season like this year where the Jazz isn’t as competitive in years past, the team ranked 13th among the NBA in total attendance. Oftentimes, the Jazz find themselves in the top ten in attendance, even leading the league in attendance in 2021.
Among the competitors for Salt Lake City to bring a team to Utah are Las Vegas, Portland, and Nashville. The edge that SLC has is that the city doesn’t impede on other markets like some other competition; Portland impedes Seattle, as well as Nashville, impeding Atlanta. Salt Lake City finds itself in the middle of the west, with the closest MLB team in proximity being the Colorado Rockies (about 500 miles away).
The expansion seems that it could happen as soon as the Athletics’ and Rays’ stadium issues are resolved. Until then, the Millers and the city will look to gain support for the idea to pair a second professional sports team with the Utah Jazz.