Lee Benson: Talking about life, Larry, baseball and the Bees with Marc Amicone

Published: Thursday, Aug. 14 2014 12:55 p.m. MDT

DN: It’s been more than five years now since Larry H. Miller left us. Do you sense he’s still keeping an eye on things?

MA: Obviously it’s the Miller family now (that owns the Bees) and I want all of them to be proud of what we’re doing. Gail, Greg, Steve and Bryan have done a terrific job of keeping the LHM legacy in sports and entertainment in Utah alive and well. They care every bit as much as Larry did. What mattered to him matters to them. But yeah, pretty much every day I find myself thinking about Larry and what he’d be proud of.

DN: He was not a hands-off kind of owner.

MA: (Laughs) I used to tell people we had the world’s highest-profile meteorologist because Larry’s office was on the 10th floor of Jordan Commons and he would watch the clouds come into the valley and call me anytime there was any kind of weather issue. He’d say, 'OK, I’m seeing this and I’m seeing that and maybe you need to put the tarp on, I’ll call you back in 30 minutes.' We had all this sophisticated weather equipment, but I had the best of all sitting up there on the 10th floor.

DN: Did that kind of micro-management ever bother you?

MA: No, never. Every time we had a conversation it was amazing how much he wanted to know about the team. He knew what was up, and with Larry it was always about how the team was doing. He just loved the game. I remember one time we had Bartolo Colon come down for a rehab assignment and Larry sat right behind home plate and spent the night looking at Colon through his binoculars. He was looking to see how he was holding his hand, how he was hiding the ball, where his hips were in the delivery, those kinds of things. That is what he loved. It was the game. And he always knew the baseball team had a different niche in the community than other sports teams. Being affordable, family friendly, all those kinds of things, were important. It’s outside, it’s green grass, it’s healthy. One of the great things about baseball is the timelessness and no clocks and you and I can be visiting and if we miss a pitch we miss a pitch. It’s OK. You’re not on the edge of your seat all the time. So it’s different that way. One of the great social events I think ever.

DN: What about the big leagues? Could Salt Lake City support a Major League Baseball franchise?

MA: I really think we have enough baseball fans and it’s now enough of a market, but I think it would be a Wasatch Front kind of a team just because of the numbers involved. In baseball, you play twice as many home games as the Jazz, 81 compared to 41, you have twice as many seats, at least twice as many suites and boxes that you have to fill, so the numbers are all a lot bigger. I believe people would just get ecstatic over it. I think it helps that we’ve established a solid baseball tradition here. This is the 20th anniversary season of this franchise in Salt Lake and we’ve been able to touch the lives of millions of people with the ballpark experience. Professional baseball is not a stranger in Salt Lake. That bodes well for the MLB potential.

DN: How about pro football?

MA: I would be the first in line for season football tickets. I think the NFL would be awesome. And I go back to what I just said about Major League Baseball and 81 games. In the NFL you’ve got 10 games, maybe, counting preseason. That’s an easier number.

DN: Best item at the Smith’s Ballpark concession stand?

MA: Oh, man, right now there’s two or three. Probably either the all-star dog or the nacho dog. The nacho dog is brand new this year, and it’s basically a big thing of nachos with a dog in the middle. But my favorite right now is an item in our fresh express lineup called the panini Cuban sandwich. And we may have the best milkshakes in town. People don’t know that. Everything at the ballpark is good. It’s better at the ballpark, that’s what we say all the time. It’s better here.

Email: benson@deseretnews.com

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