NHL Could Add a Team in This Western City

Published April 4, 2023 at 12:10

Ryan Smith who owns the Utah Jazz the NBA's Utah Jazz, and has shares in MLS' Real Salt Lake and the NWSL's resurrected Utah Royals, seems interested in getting an NHL franchise for Salt Lake City.

Per Elliotte Friedman of sportsnet.ca, "The NBA held a board of governors meeting Tuesday in New York. That night, according to multiple sources, Bettman had dinner with Ryan Smith, owner of the Utah Jazz. This is one to watch. When Fenway bought the Penguins, Smith was rumoured as another potential purchaser. Obviously, that didn't happen, but I was told to keep his name on my radar, because he's interested in the NHL — and the NHL is very interested in him."

Now, it still could be a ways off before the NHL gets serious about adding a team in Utah. They do have Vivint Arena which only holds 8,791 for hockey, but has had NHL exhibition games there with good attendance.

The hockey configuration eliminates large portions of the lower bowl in order to fit in the ice rink. It's far from visually appealing, and it shrinks the capacity to well under regular NHL standards.

The configuration for hockey is reminiscent of when the then Phoenix Coyotes played in the NBA's Suns' downtown arena with less than ideal sight lines.

With Salt Lake being considered for the 2030 Olympics, a new facility will need to be built. It could be used for both the NBA's Jazz team and an NHL team.

With NHL expansion on the back burner, the possibility of Utah adding an NHL team could come from relocation of a team with attendance/financial issues. The possible teams could include: Columbus Blue Jackets, Arizona Coyotes, Florida Panthers, and New York Islanders all apparently suffering some degree of financial woes and attendance problems.

The Salt Lake area has had a history of minor league hockey. They've had teams in the IHL from 1984-1994 (the Eagles), and ECHL from 2005-2007 (the Grizzlies).

While a dinner with Gary Bettman doesn't guarantee that the NHL will move forward in Utah, it is a first step in the process.

With the current situation in Arizona, anything can happen going forward. If the May 16th Tempe, AZ vote to add a $2.1 billion entertainment project which includes a new home for the Coyotes fails, what then? The Coyotes only have a three-year agreement (with an additional year if needed) with Arizona State University to play in their 4,600 seat new arena.

While Bettman seems adamant about keeping the Coyotes in Arizona, there is quite a bit of opposition to the addition of the project. Elections can be tricky, so we all have no idea what will happen.

It appears that Utah could be a successful site for NHL hockey, now we will just need to wait and see how things progress.
April 4   |   602 answers
NHL Could Add a Team in This Western City

Will Salt Lake City eventually get an NHL team?

No19031.6 %
Yes11919.8 %
Yes, but it may take 5-8 years14023.3 %
Please move the Coyotes here15325.4 %
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