Utah Jazz owner formally asks NHL for expansion team in Utah
Jan 24, 2024, 10:18 AM | Updated: Jan 29, 2024, 7:54 am
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SALT LAKE CITY — Ryan Smith, the owner of the Utah Jazz wants more hockey in Utah. He has officially asked the National Hockey League to take a closer look at Utah as an expansion location.
And the National Hockey League has responded. NHL representatives said they’re looking forward to continued talks with Smith Entertainment Group, the parent company of the Utah Jazz.
As reported by KSL Sports, Smith Entertainment officials believe Utah could be ready to host National Hockey League matches as early as next season.
SEG Requests Initiation of Formal Expansion Process to Bring NHL to Utah. https://t.co/XaDqoJ16P9
— Ryan Smith (@RyanQualtrics) January 24, 2024
“SEG envisions a near future where the NHL will thrive in Utah,” Smith said in a press release. “And we are 100% focused on making this happen as soon as possible.”
Smith Entertainment Group has been talking about bringing the NHL to Utah since 2022.
When or if the NHL will act on SEG’s request is still up in the air. The decision to introduce an expansion team is up to the NHL’s Board of Governors. Though, there is some hope for Utahns.
The NHL has been one of the only major North American sports leagues to expand in recent years. The league expanded in 2017 to introduce the Vegas Golden Knights. Just one year later, the NHL’s Board of Governors voted unanimously to bring a new team to Seattle in 2018. The Seattle Kraken began competing during the NHL’s 2021-2022 season.
Governor, Olympic organizers, strong supporters of more hockey in Utah
Gov. Spencer Cox noted Utah’s history with hockey, and the state’s strong economy, in his support of Smith’s request.
“Utah has a long history with hockey, the strongest economy in the nation, a passionate sports fanbase, and the youngest and most active population. These factors make Utah ripe for the expansion of our sports and entertainment community,” Cox said in a press release.
Currently, Utah boasts the Utah Grizzlies hockey team, a member of the ECHL with home ice at the Maverick Center in West Valley City.
With Utah’s “all but certain” return to the world stage as host of an upcoming Winter Olympic Games, the chair of the Salt Lake City-Utah Committee for the Games said an NHL ice rink couldn’t come at a better time.
“… a new, state-of-the-art, hockey-specific arena would be a huge contribution to our ability to host a world-class Games, including the Women’s and Men’s gold medal hockey games,” Bullock said in a press release.
Locals react to the possibility of NHL expansion in Utah
Alejandro Mendez spoke with KSL Newsradio outside the Delta Center Wednesday. He said he hasn’t been to a hockey game before, but he’d love to see another hockey team come to Utah.
“Having another team would be very very special … for Utah,” Mendez said. “I would be very interested in going to one of their games.”
“I think that would actually be perfect, it’d be something different,” said Vilda Lansing. Though Nathan Moffett said he didn’t want to put all his cards on the table just yet since this isn’t a done deal. But, if it happens, he said he’d be “excited” and maybe even go to a game.
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