The Utah athletic department has taken preliminary steps toward building an on campus baseball facility. The Utah baseball program has struggled since joining the Pac-12 finishing last in the Pac-12 the past four seasons. This season has been one of their most successful in recent years (they currently are tied for first in the Pac-12 with a 9-6 conference record despite being just 14-22 overall). The University hopes an on campus stadium would boost fan interest in the program and help with recruiting. Currently the Utah baseball program shares 15,411 seat Smith's Ballpark with the Salt Lake Bee's.
Renderings have been drawn up for a 2,000 seat stadium which would be built on the sight of the current practice field on Guardsman Way adjacent to Sunnyside Park. Chris Hill estimates the cost of building the new facility would be about $7.5 million and would be backed by donors to the athletic program.
The inspiration for such a project comes from the baseball team's female counterparts, the softball team. Utah built Dumke Stadium, where the softball team plays, in 2013. Since it opened, the softball team has risen to new heights, advancing to the NCAA regional tournament last season and finding themselves ranked for the first time in over a decade. Currently the softball team has continued their success this season, ranking third in the Pac-12 with an overall record of 27-13 and on pace for another post season performance.
Would a new stadium automatically thrust Utah baseball into postseason contention? Certainly not. However a 2,000 seat facility would provide a much more intimate home field atmosphere and perhaps more of a home field advantage than Smith's Ballpark which can feel cavernous at a Utah home baseball game. The on campus location would also encourage students to catch a game and develop a greater interest in the program.
Despite the initial plans, a new stadium is not close to being built in the near future. The athletic department would still need to get several University approvals, financial plan approval and an architect approval. This is not to mention the land lease that would need to be negotiated with the county for the land, which is currently part of Sunnyside Park.
There is a lot of red tape left to get through before any construction could begin, but a small step is at least a start. The tentative target for the stadium is currently 2018.