The Oakland Athletics are currently searching for a solution to their ballpark problem. As it stands, they don't have anywhere to play during the 2025-2027 seasons after their lease runs out at the Coliseum.
Earlier this week, John Fisher and Dave Kaval visited Sutter Health Park in Sacramento, home of the Giants' Triple-A affiliate. We wrote about the potential impact of that move on Tuesday.
In addition to their trip to Sacramento, the Athletics reportedly visited with the Larry H. Miller company, the group who own the Salt Lake Bees' stadium and a new park being built just south of Salt Lake City.
Salt Lake City already has one minor-league ballpark and is in the midst of building another. Smith's Ballpark is the home of the Salt Lake Bees, the Angels' Triple-A team. The Bees are building a new park about 30 minutes south in the town of Daybreak that will provide the team a number of upgrades and amenities.
The alleged plan for the A's would be to take over the new stadium in Daybreak for the 2025-2027 seasons, while the Bees would remain in downtown Salt Lake.
The new stadium is slated to house 7,500 fans, but would apparently be modified with temporary units to increase the capacity to 11,000. According to the statement from Big League Utah, the new stadium will be accessible, being close to both the major highway and public transportation.
There are renderings available for the new park, and it looks pretty nice. It's too small for a major league park, but it still looks better than most.
Of all the options the A's have come up with, this one might actually make the most sense. The biggest issue would seem to be the loss of their RSN contract, which stipulates that the A's must play a certain percentage of their games in the Bay Area to be eligible for roughly $60 million per year.
If the A's were to play in Sacramento, there's a possibility that the team could renegotiate the contract to receive a smaller portion of that total, while still playing fairly close to home.
In Utah, that money will be gone. They will be playing in a much smaller metro area, though there aren't the same challenges within the market. Many Sacramento residents are A's fans and wouldn't support the team if it played there. Utah may have a smaller fanbase but they have more reason to support the team while it's there.
Fans there don't have the same connection to the team, and Big League Utah, among others, are vying for a major league team already. Showing strong support for the A's if they do end up in town might show MLB that the city is capable of and willing to support an expansion franchise.
At the end of the day, it's still a minor league park. Despite the condition of the Coliseum, it has major league amenities that most or all minor league parks don't. The Utah park is much smaller, meaning the stadium revenue will be limited. And the A's will be bad, meaning that the potential fanbase might not want to come out and support the team.
We'll have to wait and see what happens but of all the solutions that have been presented thus far, this one seems to be closer to a realistic option than most.