Preliminary plan in works to bring professional baseball to Cache County

This undated photo courtesy of the Ogden Raptors shows the Raptors at Lindquist Field with the Wasatch Mountain Range in the background in Ogden, Utah.

This undated photo courtesy of the Ogden Raptors shows the Raptors at Lindquist Field with the Wasatch Mountain Range in the background in Ogden, Utah. (Ogden Raptors, Associated Press)



Estimated read time: 5-6 minutes

LOGAN — If all goes as planned, professional baseball will be coming to Cache Valley.

An ownership group that includes Ogden Raptors owner Dave Baggott has signed a letter of intent with Alex Bearnson and a Providence city landowner to place a new Pioneer League baseball franchise and new ballpark in the area by 2024.

"The market has grown to 140,000-plus people that would support it," Baggot told KSL.com. "And, of course, it would be something for the entire Cache County.

"We're excited that the mayor of Providence and the city leaders and the county folks have shown their confidence and want to get this done."

The proposal, according Bearnson, who is the project developer, is to build a multi-purpose stadium in an area of southwest Providence that has 250 acres zoned for development.

Bearnson estimates the stadium cost to be in the $10 million to $12 million range. Most of the funding will be through private donations; however, the group hopes to receive a grant from the state. There is no plan to use money from the city of Providence.

"This is all preliminary," Bearnson said. "If everything goes smoothly and we can get the funding, we're sold on it. … We're 100% on board."

As a Providence resident and Cache Valley native, Bearnson envisions the stadium to be the "epicenter" of the 250-acre property located at 1700 South and Main Street that could become a new "community center" suited to meet the needs of the growing community. The project would also include restaurants, youth sports facilities and other amenities on the property.

The proposed stadium, according to Baggott and Bearnson, would be a multi-use facility with a synthetic playing surface to combat the Northern Utah weather in cold-weather months and to make it more compatible to host non-baseball events. Bearnson suggested the park could host community movie nights, high school games, and other activities.

The group has even reached out to Utah State University about adding Division I baseball and playing their games at the new stadium. Utah State adding baseball, however, is unlikely, considering the Title IX constraints and the tight budget the athletic department operates under each season.

"You only have so many dollars," Athletic Director John Hartwell told The Utah Statesman. "So it's not even really in the thought process right now about us expanding the number of sports.

"I would say unequivocally as we stand today, if and when we were to add the next sport, it would definitely be a women's sport."

The main purpose of the stadium, however, is to host the new baseball franchise, and the Pioneer League is on board, according to Bearnson.

"We do have a letter of intent with the Pioneer League and team owners to join the league," he said.

Until recently, the Pioneer League was a conglomeration of advanced rookie ball teams with direct ties to MLB teams. But in 2020, the MLB consolidated its number of farm teams, and several Pioneer League teams lost their major league affiliates, including the Ogden Raptors and Orem Owls, who lost affiliation with the Los Angeles Dodgers and Los Angeles Angels, respectively.

The Pioneer League turned into a "partner league" of the MLB in 2021, and all of its clubs are independent. The Owls ownership moved the team to Windsor, Colorado, to become the Northern Colorado Owls, while the league added the Boise Hawks in 2021 and Glacier Range Riders (Kalispel, Montana) to become a 10-team league.

While Providence could be the 11th addition, the league as a whole could look dramatically different in the next 3-5 years, according to Baggott. He said he hopes to get a team in Cache Valley in the next two years, and that there is talk from others about bringing a second team to Idaho.

"There's strength in numbers, and we as a league want to expand the league by as many teams as quickly as possible. The entire league is open to any community," Baggott said. "Let's say you got Ogden, you would have Providence, Cache County, who's to say you can't go back to Pocatello and then Idaho Falls? So you'd have a nice little I-15 corridor."

Baggott sees the Logan area as a natural addition. Cache County, which has a population of 133,956 people — an increase of over 18,000 people in just the past 10 years — is a community with established baseball tradition.

There is a summer collegiate baseball league, the Northern Utah League, that includes teams from Hyrum, Logan, Providence and Smithfield; all five high schools in the Logan area have sanctioned baseball teams; and the Utah State club baseball team has had plenty of success in recent years, including winning the National Club Baseball Association World Series in 2012 and 2014 and returning to the eight-team series in 2017 and 2022.

Providence itself, where Baggott was directed when originally reaching out to people in the area, has grown by over 1,000 residents in the past 10 years to a population of 8,400 people.

'"Providence is a baseball town," Bearnson said. "There are a lot of families that love the game here."

With early support from Providence and Cache County officials, the group is eager to make the new franchise and stadium happen. They look forward to hearing the public's opinion on the matter, too.

"Many people have been involved in trying to get this facilitated," Baggott said. "I've yet to hear one negative thing about the possibility of putting up a professional baseball team (in Cache Valley). I think the community, as a whole, is on board."

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