Tom Smart, Deseret News
SALT LAKE CITY — Utah's biggest name in the grocery business is partnering with the state's biggest name in local sports.
Smith's Food & Drug Stores Inc. announced Wednesday a new multiyear partnership with Miller Sports Properties for the exclusive naming rights for the Salt Lake Bees' home stadium.
The name will be changed from Spring Mobile Ballpark to Smith's Ballpark. Terms of the six-year agreement were not disclosed.
Greg Miller, CEO of the Larry H. Miller group of companies, which owns the Bees, said the deal is “special” because it brings together two venerable family names in partnership.
“Smith’s is a Utah family that had deep roots in this state before they sold the family business,” he said. “It’s neat that it has come full-circle, and now a company that started in Utah is the sponsor of the ballpark.”
The 15,411-seat natural grass facility is home of the Bees, the Triple-A affiliate of the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim.
Jay Cummins, Smith’s president and admitted longtime Angels fan, said, "We are thrilled to be able join the Bees and Salt Lake City in this partnership. It is one of the premier ballparks in all of minor league baseball.”
He added, “This is a wonderful opportunity for Smith's to help create lasting memories for Utah families."
The six-year naming rights agreement between Smith's and the Salt Lake Bees includes exclusive sponsorship and advertising rights and prominent signage on the stadium's exterior façade along 1300 South, the team's scoreboard in right center field and in numerous locations throughout the ballpark. Additionally, Smith's will continue to sponsor “Family Night” where families can get a four-pack of tickets and four hot dogs for $20 on Monday nights throughout the 2014 season, said Smith's vice president of public affairs Marsha Gilford.
Launched as a single store in Brigham City in 1932, today Smith's Food & Drug is a division of the Kroger Co. with 47 stores statewide employing 6,700 Utahns.
This season will mark the 20th anniversary of what is now Smith's Ballpark. The team has drawn more than 500,000 fans in three of the last four years, and last June, the ballpark welcomed its 10 millionth fan through the gates since its dedication in April 1994.
"The hometown grocer is being united with the hometown baseball team, and we think it's a perfect fit as this partnership reflects our joint interests in sports, community service and healthy living," said Steve Miller, president of Miller Sports Properties.
Since its opening, the ballpark has hosted a major league exhibition game between the Colorado Rockies and the Seattle Mariners in 2013, Triple-A All-Star Games in 1996 and 2011, the Mountain West Conference baseball tournament in 2005, home games for the University of Utah baseball team, and four appearances by Salt Lake in the Pacific Coast League championship series.
The Bees begin their season on April 3 with an eight-game home stand against Sacramento and Fresno.
"As a city, we are very proud of this facility and the teams that call it home," said Salt Lake City Mayor Ralph Becker. "We are fortunate to be able to enjoy Triple-A baseball here and we look forward to spending another summer watching baseball, picnicking on the grass and enjoying the fireworks at Smith's Ballpark."
The ballpark opened in 1994 as Franklin Covey Field at the same site as the old Derks Field, which was named after community baseball enthusiast John C. Derks. Its name was changed to Spring Mobile Ballpark in 2009.
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