A's temporary move to Salt Lake City could pave the way for MLB expansion in Utah

This is a golden opportunity for Salt Lake City.
Salt Lake Bees, Smith's Park
Salt Lake Bees, Smith's Park / Daniela Porcelli/GettyImages
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The Oakland Athletics will not have a home after the upcoming season. The A's are set to leave the Bay Area for the Vegas Strip, but a new stadium has yet to be built and isn't set to open until 2028. However, the A's lease at the Oakland Coliseum expires after the 2024 season. This presents quite the problem.

The A's have options, and according to the Las Vegas Review Journal, owner John Fischer and top executives recently toured Sutter Health Park in Sacramento. The same report cites Las Vegas Ballpark (Las Vegas Aviators), Greater Nevada Field (Reno Aces), Oracle Park (San Francisco Giants), and Smith's Ballpark (Salt Lake Bees) as potential temporary homes for the A's.

While the club is said to be exploring all options, a temporary home in Utah may be best for both the Athletics and Salt Lake City. Major League Baseball Commissioner Rob Manfred has said that once the stadium deals for the A's and the Tampa Bay Rays are cleared up, MLB will look to expand from 30 to 32 teams. This would be the perfect opportunity for Salt Lake City to prove it belongs in the conversation.

MLB expansion could spread to Utah if Salt Lake City becomes temporary home for the Oakland A's

Oakland A's ownership has driven away the team's fanbase. In recent years, the front office has set the team up for failure. Last season, Oakland won just 50 games. The year prior, the A's were only 10 games better with a record of 60-102. Oakland did enjoy a winning season in 2021, but every single one of the Top 10 leaders in bWAR from that year's team are gone.

And what do the A's have to show for selling off their top talent and allowing others to leave via free agency? One Top 100 prospect - shortstop Jacob Wilson is the only A's prospect who ranks among the Top 100, according to MLB Pipeline. Admittedly, the A's are not a well-run MLB franchise.

So why in the world would Salt Lake City want to become the temporary home for the worst team in baseball? Quite simply, this would allow both MLB and Utah to see if they're a good fit for one another. Remember, Salt Lake City wouldn't be auditioning for the A's themselves, but rather an expansion franchise.

MLB expansion: Salt Lake City has competition from other US cities

Earlier this week, the Utah Senate passed a resolution in support of MLB expanding into the Beehive State. The resolution's desired location for a future stadium would be across from the Utah State Fairpark grounds in Salt Lake City.

If Salt Lake City is serious about landing a Major League Baseball franchise, this is their opportunity. Nashville, Tennessee, Portland, Oregon, and Charlotte, North Carolina are all vying to be on the short list as well.

Salt Lake City is currently home to the Utah Jazz (NBA) and Real Salt Lake (MLS). Ryan Smith, who owns both the Jazz and Real Salt Lake, is making a pitch to expand the NHL to Salt Lake City as well. The Larry H. Miller Company, who previously owned the Jazz, are leading the charge in the effort to bring baseball to Utah.

The Salt Lake City community needn't look very far to see the impact that additional sports can have for a city. A six-hour drive south down I-15 will show what's happening in Las Vegas. Since 2017, Sin City has added the Vegas Golden Knights, Las Vegas Raiders, and, soon, the Las Vegas Athletics.

So while there's not much excitement for the A's in Vegas, temporarily housing the team in Utah would be a huge step toward bring MLB action to Salt Lake City permanently, and would accomplish more than biding time in Sacramento. A new ballpark is set to open in South Jordan is set to open in 2025 and can be expanded to 12,000. The A's averaged less than 11,000 fans last season, so they'd feel right at home.

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