Ballpark Next competition ends, ‘She Plays Here’ design among the winners

Jun 2, 2023, 6:00 AM

salt lake bees fans come back to smiths ballpark...

FILE: Overhead look at Smith's Ballpark in Salt Lake City, Utah. Salt Lake City announced the three winners in its Ballpark Next competition, including a design called 'She Plays Here.' (KSL-TV, Chopper 5. )

(KSL-TV, Chopper 5. )

SALT LAKE CITY — After two months of submissions, Salt Lake City’s Ballpark Next competition has come to a conclusion. 

More than 120 entries were reviewed by the city, which in turn trimmed the field down to 30 semifinalists. Ten in each of the three categories. The categories were resident, post-secondary student and professional. 

Over a 10-day voting period, more than 4,600 votes were cast. On Wednesday, the city announced the three winning designs. The city also awarded the winners a combined $30,000.

Winners of the Ballpark Next competition

One of the winning submissions was a women’s multi-sports venue entitled ‘She Plays Here’. Tessa Arneson, founder of the Maven District, joined Dave and Dujanovic on Thursday to discuss the design.

Dave Noriega noticed something about all three winning designs.

“None of them used a bulldozer,” he said. “None of them used a bulldozer to knock down the old ballpark. They all used the ballpark in their designs in some way.”

Debbie Dujanovic opens the conversation by congratulating Arneson on her accomplishment.

“We feel like 2023 is the time to start paying attention to women in sport,” Arneson said. “It’s been 100 years since we’ve been supplementing men’s sports. It’s time for us to pay attention to what’s going on in women’s sports.”

What will the design be like?

Noriega asked, “So, paint a picture for us. What would this look like?”

“What we know about women’s sport is that when you have priority in scheduling, meaning your own place to play,” Arneson said. “You then get more attractive to sponsorship dollars, to filling the stadium, to getting the right media bias, and what that leads to is equal pay and it’s time.”

Arneson says her ultimate dream would be to have the Utah Royals FC play at the old ballpark.

“So there are a lot of teams that exist at the pro level that do not have pro-level accommodations,” she said. “And we want to give that to them.”

Specifically, Arneson said her group has been working closely with the Utah Falcons (tackle football league), Utah Wild (ultimate frisbee), and Utah rugby.

“So those all already exist in Utah and why not give them a home?” Arneson said. “Literally, put them on equal playing field than what we do for men all over the country.”

Arneson said she wants the ballpark to be much more than a ballpark in the future.

“We want this to be a place that people use, not only for a ballpark, but they’re using it for their daily lives,” she said. “And we want concerts, want cultural events. We want places, people can open up businesses in a really low threshold kind of way.”

Dujanovic asked, “Could the city veto this and go with their own plan altogether?” 

“They sure can,” Arneson said. “But what we hope is that this contest has proved that there is a lot of public support behind it.”

Listen to the entire segment.


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Ballpark Next competition ends, ‘She Plays Here’ design among the winners