Jazz owner Ryan Smith requests NHL expansion team in Utah


On Wednesday, the Utah Jazz’s owners announced their immediate capability to bring an NHL team to Salt Lake City, urging the initiation of an expansion process. The Smith Entertainment Group (SEG) plans to use the Jazz’s arena as a temporary home for the NHL franchise. SEG CEO Ryan Smith expressed a 100% focus on making this a reality as soon as possible. Talks between Smith and the league have been ongoing since 2022, with the NHL expressing appreciation for the Smiths’ commitment to Utah. This announcement comes amid uncertainty about the Arizona Coyotes’ future, currently playing in Mullett Arena on Arizona State University’s campus.

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The Coyotes have been firm about staying in Arizona, despite challenges, and have identified potential sites for a privately funded arena. Commissioner Gary Bettman stated that the last two NHL expansions, Vegas and Seattle, strengthened the league. While acknowledging Arizona’s potential, he highlighted the Coyotes’ challenges as a victim of circumstance. Governor Spencer Cox sees Utah as ripe for another team, with a strong economy and passionate sports fans. The potential addition aligns with Salt Lake City’s bid for the 2034 Winter Olympics. SEG mentioned that the location for a potential new hockey arena is yet to be determined. Utah Grizzlies currently play in West Valley City, and SEG emphasized the need for a new arena for professional and Olympic hockey.

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