An NHL hockey stadium in Utah? The legislature is considering it

Jan 29, 2024, 10:11 AM

COLUMBUS, OH - JANUARY 24: A general view of the NHL logo prior to the 2015 Honda NHL All-Star Skil...

COLUMBUS, OH - JANUARY 24: A general view of the NHL logo prior to the 2015 Honda NHL All-Star Skills Competition at the Nationwide Arena on January 24, 2015 in Columbus, Ohio. (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)

(Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)

SALT LAKE CITY— State Senator Dan McCay said that Utah might be a sleeping hockey giant in a resolution supporting the creation of a National Hockey League team in Salt Lake City, or S.J.R. 12.

A new stadium

McCay wrote over 30 reasons that Utah deserves an NHL team, including its possible willingness to build a “state-of-the-art” stadium for hockey.

However, the NHL would not have to wait for a hockey stadium before playing in Salt Lake City. McCay said that the Delta Center could be an interim home while the new arena is being constructed. The stadium currently houses the Utah Jazz. 

That matches other multi-sport metropolises. In Boston, the TD Garden arena houses basketball and hockey.

Salt Lake City leaders have been considering a hockey team since at least last summer. The Salt Lake Tribune reported they almost requested to move the Arizona Coyotes to Utah.

More recently, however, they are on the drumbeat of building a new, professional ballpark where the Salt Lake City Bees have played for decades.

Additionally, Major League Baseball is already ahead of the curve when it comes to the legislature. A resolution supporting the push for a new MLB team sailed through the Senate and gained a favorable vote from the House Committee. 

Why Utah?

The main force behind the NHL push is Utah Jazz and Real Salt Lake owner Ryan Smith. He says the booming youth basketball scene in Utah could generate hockey hype for generations.

“Imagine a world,” said Smith on ESPN last week, “Where you could actually create the movement with the junior hockey league, similar to what we’ve done with the [Junior] Jazz.”

McCay refers to this as a big selling point for his resolution. He wrote that the Junior Jazz are “the longest-running and largest youth basketball program in the NBA,” with 2 million total participants since the group began in 1983.

Additionally, McCay said that Utah has a solid business reputation and a strong reputation for sports infrastructure, fandom, and events. The list includes the 2002 Winter Olympics and the 2023 NBA All-Star Game.

If passed, the resolution expresses lawmakers’ support for the Smith Entertainment Group, owned by Ryan Smith, to take charge of this potential new franchise.

In his resolution, McCay opted to reference the hit TV show The Office: “You miss 100% of the shots you don’t take.”

Related: Utah Jazz owner formally asks NHL for expansion team in Utah

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An NHL hockey stadium in Utah? The legislature is considering it