Smith’s Ballpark is celebrating its 25th anniversary in 2019, providing an opportunity to reflect on the tradition the Salt Lake Bees (Class AAA; Pacific Coast League) have built at the facility.
On April 11, 1994, the then Salt Lake Buzz took the field for the first time at the brand-new Franklin Quest Field, which was constructed on the same site as downtown Salt Lake City’s former MiLB ballpark, Derks Field. With a remarkable view of Wasatch Mountain Range and a solid gameday experience, the facility–which became Smith’s Ballpark in 2014–has held up nicely over the past 25 years, while the Bees have created plenty of memories at the venue.
Among some of the highlights have included an alumni that features the likes of Torii Hunter and David Ortiz–two prospects from the franchise’s days as a Minnesota Twins affiliate–and Mike Trout. In addition, the Bees and the Los Angeles Angels have formed one of the steadiest Triple-A/MLB affiliations in all of baseball, as their partnership began in 2001 and is currently set to run through the 2022 season. The Bees have also been able to play a larger role in the community during their time at Smith’s Ballpark, and fans have responded by turning out in strong numbers over the years. More from the Salt Lake Tribune:
“I think we provide something that’s really valuable for people,” said [Bees president and general manager Marc] Amicone. “We’re not doctors or firemen or policemen. We’re allowing people to come and really enhance their life.”
To Amicone, the sport is part of a larger life script.
“I think baseball is timeless,” he said.
Followers of America’s great pastime certainly concur. Those who’ve filled Smith’s Ballparks over the last 25 seasons — the number will reach 13 million spectators sometime this summer — have cultivated a relationship with the organization that is notable, Amicone said. It helps, too, having some of the games best make stops along the Wasatch Front on their way to stardom. That’s where Amicone, hired as GM in 2005 by [Larry H.] Miller and later named team president in 2017, can weave story after story.
In addition to being the home of the Bees, Smith’s Ballpark also hosts college baseball for the Utah Utes.