Could Salt Lake City’s Ballpark District Get a New Name?

Salt Lake City’s Ballpark District is set for change after announcing this month that the Salt Lake Bees will be departing from minor league baseball after the 2024 season at South Jordan’s Daybreak.

What will replace Smith’s Ballpark at 77 W. 1300 South — if anything replaces the structure — is still an open question, and city officials are hoping a planning competition will guide the redevelopment.

But if the team’s departure ultimately leaves Ballpark, well, without a ballpark, should the neighborhood’s name change as well? And if the name were to change, how exactly would that happen?

Salt Lake City City Council Chairman Darin Mano, whose district Ballpark is a part of, said he was open to keeping or changing the neighborhood’s name, but has not been involved in any discussions about it.

“There are neighborhoods that are often named after historical elements,” Mano said, “so I don’t think it’s unreasonable that it stays that way.”

More than anything, he said, he wants local residents, not politicians, to drive this conversation.

Mano said he hopes the city’s planning competition — as city hall officials call Ballpark Next — will spark discussions about the neighborhood’s identity. The competition is open to residents, students and planning and design professionals.

The Salt Lake Tribune asked readers what they thought should happen to the neighborhood’s name, and received dozens of responses. Most respondents in the unscientific poll – around 60% – said the area should keep its current nickname, regardless of whether it is home to a stadium.

The 40% or so who felt the neighborhood should have a new identity suggested names such as Westwood, West Temple Neighborhood, The Dugout, Derks Park (an ode to the former Derks Field), Gentry Park, South Downtown, Lower Main (LoMa for short). ), Grove Park, South Central City and Honeyland.

Some readers said keeping the neighborhood’s name will preserve the city’s history. They were quick to point out – in some cases adamantly – that Sugar House was out of sugar beets, Millcreek was out of operation, and Brickyard was making few bricks.

City Hall officials are not tasked with naming neighborhoods. Instead, local councils call the shots on name changes with a process through the town clerk’s office.

Bill Davis, former chairman of the Ballpark Community Council, was responsible for giving Ballpark its current identity. He proposed changing the neighborhood’s name in 2010, when the area was still known as the People’s Freeway.

“The trouble with that [former name] was that no one knew where it was,” he said. “If you’re working on a neighborhood and you’re trying to improve it, you have to give it an identity.”

Davis, now chairman of Liberty Wells Community Council, said while the Ballpark neighborhood moves forward without a baseball team, he’d like to see the neighborhood keep its name.

“Everyone has memories of it (the stadium),” he said. “And I think keeping the name is just honoring those memories and that legacy and everything else that’s there because they’re not going to go away.”

Although the Ballpark name is relatively new, the neighborhood is steeped in decades of baseball history. The sport has been played at the intersection of West Temple and 1300 South for about a century, with the site attracting baseball legends such as Babe Ruth and Hank Aaron.

The first iteration of the Bees played there as early as 1915 in what later became Derks Field. Nearly 80 years later, the city built what is now known as Smith’s Ballpark to spur a move from the Portland Beavers, the Triple-A affiliate of the major leagues Minnesota Twins.

Because of this story, current Ballpark Community Council chairwoman Amy J. Hawkins said her neighborhood deserved to keep her name.

Other parts of the city, she said, are named after historic buildings that haven’t been around nearly as long as a ballpark in her neighborhood.

“But there will be other neighborhood leaders after me,” she wrote in a text message, “and they may feel differently.”

City officials, meanwhile, say they are staying the course in implementing the ambitious Ballpark Station Area Plan that the council approved last fall. The plan aims to guide the revitalization of the area and boost activity with elements such as a festival road along the West Temple.

At the city’s annual state address on Tuesday, Mayor Erin Mendenhall announced that the Larry H. and Gail Miller Family Foundation (the Bees are owned by the Larry H. Miller Co.) will launch a $100 million fundraiser for investments in the will lead neighborhood.

The public-private partnership will include efforts from Salt Lake City, Intermountain Health and Zions Bank.

Editor’s Note • This story is available only to Salt Lake Tribune subscribers. Thank you for supporting local journalism. Could Salt Lake City’s Ballpark District Get a New Name?

Justin Scacco

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