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Salt Lake City eyes Smith’s Ballpark area for development

Smith's Ballpark

Going to a Salt Lake Bees (Triple-A West) game at Smith’s Ballpark could become an even better experience under a neighborhood development plan proposed by Salt Lake City Mayor Erin Mendenhall.

Smith’s Ballpark sports one of the best vista views in all of the minors, and the ballpark already offers a great game-day experience. But it’s no secret that the neighborhood surrounding the ballpark is a little iffy. It’s that reputation that Mendenhall and other city officials are seeking to combat.

Salt Lake City’s Ballpark neighborhood is defined as the area south of downtown running east-west between State Street and I-15 and north-south between 900 South and 1700 South. The ballpark is pretty much in the middle of this neighborhood at 1300 South between Temple and Main Street. Not surprisingly, that area is a focus of the changes envisioned for the area.

According to a press release from Mendenhall’s office, the Ballpark Station Area Plan would include a new library, new festival street next to the ballpark between 1300 South to Albermarle Avenue, additional parks, open spaces and improved transportation amenities for the neighborhood like sidewalks, trails and neighborhood level, pedestrian friendly retail and services. A key part of the plan includes creation of a Ballpark Station Area Transit zone, as the first action in six broad strokes to improve the area:

  1. Creation of a Ballpark Station Area Transit zone in the location identified as the “Heart of the Neighborhood.”
  2. Reconfiguration of the Ballpark TRAX Station to improve access from the west.
  3. Improvement of 1300 South for pedestrians by creating new crossings and expanding and upgrading the street level pedestrian experience.
  4. Creation of a sense of place at and around the stadium and in a way that positively activates the area 365 days a year.
  5. Repurposing of parking lots and underutilized properties to add activity to the Heart of the Neighborhood.
  6. Investment in community amenities and green space to balance the growth this neighborhood will see with attributes that improve quality of life.

“The release of this plan marks a major milestone in the evolution of the Ballpark Neighborhood. I have loved hearing ideas from the community about their dreams for their neighborhood and I think this plan reflects the best of those ideas for the future,” Mendenhall said in the press release. “I hope this plan sparks ongoing collaboration among all of our community partners to make our exciting shared vision a reality in the coming months and years.” 

The Bees are central to this plan, which does make Mendenhall’s task list a little longer. The Bees’ lease at Smith’s Ballpark, owned by Salt Lake City ends in 2024, and the ballpark will need some work to meet MLB’s new facility standards. The lease negotiations will need to address several needs for the team, and as the team is owned by the the Smith Entertainment Group, owner of the NBA’s Utah Jazz, among other sports assets, there surely will be a debate on how much of the renovations should be covered by the Smith Group and how much by the city. Further complicating things: a goal in the plan is to increase street-level engagement at Bees games and ballpark events–certainly something to address in any lease negotiations.

Image courtesy Salt Lake Bees.

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