Group led by ex-Jazz owner Gail Miller wants to bring MLB expansion team to Salt Lake City

Gail Miller, former longtime owner of the Utah Jazz, is leading a Salt Lake City-based group that plans to pursue an MLB expansion team in the coming years.

The group is called Big League Utah, according to ESPN. In addition to Miller, it reportedly includes the Larry H. Miller Company (founded by Gail’s late husband), a number of local businesses, and former MLB players Dale Murphy and Jeremy Guthrie, who both live in Utah.

Salt Lake City is one of several cities that have thrown their hats into the ring to be the future home of an MLB baseball team. Others include Nashville, Tenn., Portland, Oregon, and Charlotte, North Carolina.

As for why they feel Salt Lake City is the place for a new baseball team, Big League Utah had a long list of reasons why. Via ESPN:

Leaders of the Salt Lake City group highlighted a media market larger than that of four current major league teams: San Diego, Kansas City, Cincinnati and Milwaukee. They stressed Utah’s significant growth, as its population of about 3.3 million swelled by a higher percentage than any state from 2010 to 2020, according to the Census Bureau, and the Wasatch Front population — stretching from Ogden to Provo — is around 2.7 million. On top of that, the group said, Utah’s 2.4% unemployment rate in February was the fourth lowest in the country, with an economy trumpeted in recent years as among the strongest in the United States.

The on-deck circle with the MLB logo is in place before a baseball game between the Washington Nationals and the Atlanta Braves at Nationals Park, Sunday, April 2, 2023, in Washington. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)

A group called Big League Utah plans to pursue an MLB expansion team for Salt Lake City in the coming years. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)

Big League Utah says they’re ready for an expansion team, and commissioner Rob Manfred said in July that he “would love to get to 32 teams.” However, there’s other business to handle first. The Oakland Athletics and the Tampa Bay Rays, two teams with major and sustained attendance issues, have stadium leases up in a few years (A’s in 2024, Rays in 2027). Both want new stadiums and don’t appear to be close to getting them. It’s possible either or both teams could move to a new city if stadium deals don’t get completed.

But when all that is finally taken care of, two-time National League MVP Dale Murphy, who moved to Utah after retiring, believes Salt Lake City is the perfect place for MLB to put a new team.

“It’s time,” Murphy told ESPN. “It can happen. And it’d be a great market. There’s a healthy love of baseball out here.”

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