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Jazz owner keen on bringing NHL to Salt Lake City: 'Hockey would thrive here'

Melissa Majchrzak / National Basketball Association / Getty

Utah Jazz owner Ryan Smith wholeheartedly believes Salt Lake City should be the NHL's next venture.

"I think, for a whole host of reasons, we're not only ready, but hockey would thrive here the same it has in Seattle and also in Vegas," Smith told The Athletic's Pierre LeBrun.

Smith has been in contact with commissioner Gary Bettman and deputy commissioner Bill Daly to express his sincere interest in bringing a team to Utah. The billionaire also raised eyebrows in April when he tweeted that bringing hockey to the state is "in motion."

A Salt Lake City NHL franchise could temporarily share Vivint Arena with the Jazz, a venue that Smith says can seat 14,000 for hockey events. The Los Angeles Kings have played preseason games at the venue numerous times since 2018.

It's unclear when the league may want to expand again after bringing in the Vegas Golden Knights and Seattle Kraken in recent years, but there could be a relocation fit with the Arizona Coyotes. The club's future is in limbo after its latest bid for a new arena failed, and Daly said earlier this month that the clock is ticking for the Coyotes to find a long-term solution.

Smith is adamant Salt Lake City is the answer.

"Everything is close," he said. "We're the fastest-growing state. We're the youngest state. You look at our Utah Jazz, we sold out like 240 straight games in the NBA with three different makeups of a team, right? The fans, when they go in, they go in. We're starting to see this massive movement toward in-person sports, and I think it's definitely on the rise, and I'm really intrigued with hockey."

He added: "From my standpoint, we have a huge opportunity to build something unique. And I think hockey is a big catalyst for that. I think we can create an experience that's both incredible for the NBA and for hockey."

Smith became the majority owner of the Jazz in 2020. He also bought Real Salt Lake of the MLS in 2022 along with New Jersey Devils and Philadelphia 76ers owner David Blitzer.

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