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Utah Jazz Owners' Ambitious Bid to Bring NHL to Salt Lake City

Utah Jazz Owners' Ambitious Bid to Bring NHL to Salt Lake City




The landscape of professional sports in Salt Lake City could be on the brink of a transformative shift as the owners of the NBA's Utah Jazz, Smith Entertainment Group (SEG), express a keen interest in bringing an NHL team to the Utah capital. This ambitious move is accompanied by a declaration from SEG that they have the immediate capability to initiate the expansion process, with plans to utilize the Utah Jazz's arena as a temporary home for the potential NHL franchise.


In a recent press release, SEG's CEO, Ryan Smith, conveyed a profound commitment to expeditiously turning this vision into a reality. The Smith family has been actively engaged in discussions with the NHL since 2022, and the league, in a statement, has acknowledged and appreciated the Smiths' dedication to their community and their vision for Utah as a burgeoning sports and entertainment destination.


This revelation comes at a strategic juncture, considering the ongoing uncertainties surrounding the Arizona Coyotes and their quest for a stable long-term venue. Currently playing in a temporary facility in Tempe, Arizona, the Coyotes' situation has opened up discussions about potential relocations or expansions, making Salt Lake City an intriguing prospect.


Ryan Smith's unequivocal focus on the swift realization of this NHL endeavor is evident in his statement, "We are 100% focused on making this happen as soon as possible." This declaration reflects the determination of SEG to bring top-tier professional hockey to Utah and solidify the state's status as a sports hub.


The NHL, in its response, has recognized Utah as a promising market and expressed an eagerness to continue discussions with SEG about the potential expansion. As the league has expanded to 32 teams, the addition of another franchise could be a strategic move, further solidifying the NHL's presence in the United States.


Salt Lake City, known for hosting the 2002 Winter Olympics, is no stranger to winter sports, including ice hockey. The city has previously hosted five NHL exhibition games at the Delta Center, the home arena of the Utah Jazz, since 2018. This history serves as a testament to the city's capability to host NHL-level events and paves the way for discussions about the construction of a new arena designed for professional and Olympic hockey.


The exact location for this potential new arena is yet to be determined, but the prospect of hosting an NHL team has ignited excitement among Utah's sports enthusiasts. The anticipation is heightened by the fact that SEG, under the leadership of Ryan Smith, has been a significant player in both the business and sports community. The Smiths' proven commitment to their community and their ambitious vision align with Utah's aspirations of becoming a prominent sports and entertainment destination.


Utah Governor Spencer Cox has expressed optimism about the potential addition of an NHL team to Salt Lake City. He cited the state's strong economy, passionate sports fans, and its rich history as a winter sports capital. Salt Lake City's bid for the 2034 Winter Olympics further underscores the city's commitment to its sports legacy.


While the Delta Center could serve as an interim solution for an NHL team, there is a recognition of the need for a purpose-built arena designed to meet the standards of professional and Olympic hockey. This forward-looking approach aligns with Salt Lake City's aspirations of being at the forefront of the sports and entertainment industry.


The NHL, having expanded to new markets in recent years with the addition of teams like the Vegas Golden Knights and the Seattle Kraken, is well-aware of the strategic importance of selecting markets that enhance the league's overall strength. The potential addition of Salt Lake City to the NHL's roster of cities could mark a significant development, bringing the excitement of professional hockey to a region with a rich sports tradition.


As discussions progress, Salt Lake City finds itself at the center of attention in the sports world, with the potential addition of an NHL team poised to shape the city's sports landscape for years to come. The intersection of the Winter Olympics bid, the passionate fanbase, and SEG's leadership places Salt Lake City on a trajectory to become a noteworthy destination for both athletes and sports enthusiasts alike. The realization of this ambitious plan could redefine Utah's standing in the world of professional sports and contribute to the ongoing growth and diversification of the NHL.

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