Among the four cities recently identified by Commissioner Gary Bettman for possible management expansion in the National Hockey League (NHL), Salt Lake City is far from hiding its interest in an expansion team and has gone to great lengths to attract their attention to attract manager's attention.
Smith Entertainment Group (SEG), the company that owns the Utah Jazz (NBA), Real Salt Lake (MLS) and the Delta Center, announced Wednesday that it has asked the NHL to begin a process aimed at to increase the number of concessions. Although the initiators say they have been talking to Bettman since the beginning of 2022, they believe that the Western American state represents an “ideal market” for hosting training.
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“SEG envisions a future where the NHL thrives in Utah. “We are 100% focused on getting this done as quickly as possible,” company President and CEO Ryan Smith said in a press release. We are ready to welcome the NHL and are confident that the time and attention invested by everyone involved will bring our community lasting exposure to one of the most exciting and dynamic leagues in the world.”
While SEG was waiting for a new arena to be built, he suggested to the NHL that the potential franchise's local games be organized at the Delta Center, home of the Jazz.
“Our state has a rich hockey history, the strongest economy in the country, a passionate fan base and the youngest and most active population. These factors favor expansion here. […] We are very excited about this opportunity,” said Utah Governor Spencer Cox.
The NHL is open to the idea
The NHL, in turn, responded with a letter confirming its intention to continue discussions with SEG and calling Utah a promising market.
“The NHL appreciates the SEG’s interest. […] During our discussions, we were impressed by Ryan and Ashley Smith's commitment [les propriétaires] for their community and through their passion and vision for Utah not only as a place for hockey, but also as a destination for sports and entertainment.”
Salt Lake City hosted the 2002 Winter Olympics and is trying its luck at the 2034 Olympics. Last year, Bettman mentioned his name, as well as the names of Quebec, Houston and Atlanta, when asked about cities interested in an expansion club . With the arrival of the Vegas Golden Knights (2017-2018) and the Seattle Kraken (2021-2022), the NHL has 32 teams in its ranks.