The owner of the Utah Jazz has tried several times to bring triple-A baseball back to Salt Lake City, but simple economics stopped him.
And Larry H. Miller adds he thinks taxpayers ultimately will bear the burden if a new baseball stadium is built.As for the stadium: "In the end, it's going to have to be taxpayers who build a stadium. I know government doesn't want to hear that right now, but that's my feeling." - Larry H. Miller City officials may not find the will to build a large stadium without a triple-A team in town. Triple-A is the highest level minor-league baseball, a step just below the major leagues. Salt Lake City's last triple-A team, the Gulls, left town in 1984.But officials also worry they can't attract a triple-A team without a state-of-the-art stadium.
In an interview earlier this week, Miller said he has tried to buy a triple-A baseball franchise to add to his pro-sports empire. Miller owns the Jazz, the Golden Eagles pro hockey team, and he financed construction of the Delta Center arena.
But the price of a team (which has risen from $500,000 to up to $5 million in recent years), and the rights to the territory (most recently set at $2 million for the Salt Lake area), made it impossible for him to project the 10 percent to 12 percent return Miller wants on an investment.
Add the cost of a stadium to that and a deal is out of the question.
"I've made it clear to the Pacific Coast League, to (Salt Lake Trappers owner) Jack Donovan and others that I'm interested," Miller said. "But the ingredients have never come together."
Miller has searched in vain for a partner - a philanthropist who doesn't require a return on the investment. "We looked extensively and couldn't find anyone," he said.
When he built the Delta Center, Miller said he could calculate on paper how that investment would pay off.
"I couldn't take a baseball team and make it do that," he said.
As for the stadium: "In the end, it's going to have to be taxpayers who build a stadium. I know government doesn't want to hear that right now, but that's my feeling."