‘I Don’t Think It’s Just PR’: Governor Cox On Efforts To Land MLB, NHL In Utah

May 18, 2023, 7:00 PM | Updated: 7:09 pm

SALT LAKE CITYUtah governor Spencer Cox believes there is real substance to the campaigns trying to get Major League Baseball and National Hockey League franchises to the Beehive State.

Governor Cox: MLB, NHL to Utah not ‘just PR’

The 18th governor of Utah discussed the possibility of more professional sports teams coming to the state during his monthly news press conference on Thursday, May 18.

During his nearly hour-long conversation with reporters, Cox was asked about his thoughts on Utah landing an MLB or NHL franchise and if he’s spoken with Utah Jazz owner Ryan Smith and people in those sports leagues about the subject.

“What do I think about it? I’m incredibly excited,” Cox began his response. “It’s something that many of us, as a self-described sports fan in myself, feel very strongly about getting these opportunities here. I think it’s good for just the fabric of our communities. I think it’s good for the economy of our communities and I just think that it’s good for the soul. Baseball’s good for the soul, hockey’s fun. I think these are wonderful opportunities.”

Not only does Cox think that opportunities are sublime, he believes that the quests to get the highest levels of baseball and hockey to the state are more than public relations campaigns.

“I don’t think it’s just PR. I don’t think it’s just kind of a wish. I think there’s actual substance behind both of those. So we’ll see,” Cox said. “[That] doesn’t mean it’ll happen. It’s possible that neither of them happen but I would say it’s more likely than not that we get at least one, if not both of those, over the course of the next few years.”


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Hockey in Utah

In recent months, Smith and former Jazz majority owner, Gail Miller, have expressed interest in bringing MLB and NHL clubs to the nation’s 45th state.

During the opening round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs in April, Smith tweeted that the journey to landing an NHL team was “in motion.”

MLB in Utah

10 days before Smith’s post on Twitter, a Miller-led group called “Big League Utah” launched its public pursuit for an MLB club.

RELATED: Steve Starks Discusses Big League Utah Coalition & MLB In Salt Lake

“I’m grateful that we have people like the Smiths and like the Millers, who are pursuing these opportunities. I couldn’t think of better ambassadors for our state than Ashley and Ryan Smith, than Gail Miller and her family, and very excited,” Cox continued. “We have had some conversations over the past couple of years with both of those groups of ownership about what they’re hopeful for and what they’re looking towards. Those are high-level discussions.”


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The governor added that he hasn’t been involved in any negotiations with those teams. However, he called the state’s role in the conversation “incredible.”

“I think that it speaks to the growth that we’ve had and the success that we’ve had as a state, the way that the rest of the nation views us now vs. maybe the way they viewed us 20 years ago. That has definitely changed,” Cox said of Utah. “We are not a smaller state anymore. We are firmly in that middle tier of states and from an economic perspective, from just a public relations perspective, Utah is seen much differently than it has been in the past and that’s good news for us. I do think that both of those opportunities.”

According to, the Beehive State is the fastest-growing state in the country by percentage growth rate (23.88 percent).

In Major League Baseball, the Oakland Athletics are progressing toward a relocation to Las Vegas, Nevada. With the A’s finding a new home, will MLB look to expand?

In March, it was reported that Smith met with NHL commissioner Gary Bettman. The league is reportedly “very interested” in adding Smith to its group of owners.

The Arizona Coyotes are based in Phoenix, a larger media market than Salt Lake City. However, the ‘Yotes quest for a new venue has hit multiple roadblocks. Could the Coyotes find a new home one state to the north?

While Smith and Big League Utah are busy preparing for the possibilities of new ownership, they can count on the support of the state’s governor.

Download the new & improved KSL Sports app from Utah’s sports leader. You can stream live radio, video and stay up to date on all of your favorite teams.


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‘I Don’t Think It’s Just PR’: Governor Cox On Efforts To Land MLB, NHL In Utah