Utah Legislators Approve Bill For Brand New Downtown NBA/NHL Arena

Mar 1, 2024, 1:04 PM

Downtown Salt Lake City NBA/NHL Arena...

(Photo courtesy of Ryan Smith on X)

(Photo courtesy of Ryan Smith on X)

SALT LAKE CITY – Utah lawmakers approved a bill on Friday that opens up the possibility of building a new arena in downtown Salt Lake City that would be home to the Utah Jazz and a potential NHL expansion team.

After the House of Representatives made some changes to the initial proposal, Utah senators voted in favor of the bill 22-4.

“A thriving state needs a thriving downtown in its capital city,” wrote SLC Mayor Erin Mendenhall, Salt Lake County Mayor Jenny Wilson, and Smith Entertainment Group in a joint statement. “With today’s passage of the Capital City Reinvestment Zone bill, we are poised to invest deeply in Salt Lake City’s downtown experience.”

The last step in the process is approval from Gov. Spencer Cox. Assuming Cox will sign off, the bill would go into effect on May 1.

The changes made by the House of Representatives include a new name for the project and some clarifications on safety and plans for the revitalization zone.

One thing is for sure, the Jazz are staying downtown. There was speculation surrounding the NHL and MLB affecting where the Jazz would call home. But both SEG and Utah lawmakers appear to be committed to keeping Utah’s NBA team right where they are.

The benefits of a revitalized sports zone extend past the NBA and NHL. Concerts and other events will likely be more inclined to come to SLC. Not to mention Salt Lake City being named the preferred host for the 2034 Winter Olympic games.

RELATED: Salt Lake City Is ‘Preferred Host’ For 2034 Olympics. What Does That Mean?

On Thursday, the Church Of Jesus Christ Of Latter-Day Saints released a statement in support of the bill.

“As a stakeholder in the downtown community, where the Church’s global headquarters is positioned, we’re pleased with the potential this has to refresh and revitalize downtown Salt Lake City while presenting a safe and family-friendly gathering place for generations to come,” a spokesperson from the Church Of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints said.

HB562 was approved by the Utah Legislature just a couple of days before SB272. HB562 is a similar bill that aims to build an MLB ballpark in Salt Lake City’s Fairpark neighborhood.

Smith Proposes Downtown Arena

Earlier this week Smith shared the drawing of the revitalized arena amid his bid to bring an NHL franchise to the state of Utah.

The rendering shows a glass-front multi-purpose arena lined by storefronts leading to the building.

“Downtown Salt Lake City is the heart of Utah,” Smith wrote. “Our efforts are not about an arena, it’s about revitalizing a downtown that desperately needs investment. Imagine a downtown experience like this with the NBA / NHL at its core.”

The Utah state senate advanced a plan to fund an NHL stadium and a “sports and entertainment” district downtown, which includes a sales tax increase of up to 0.5% in Salt Lake City.

The proposal would also allow the increased tax money to fund either a new NHL stadium, renovations to the Delta Center, or both, and infrastructure investments for a yet-to-be-determined area that the city council would designate.

Smith has said that an NHL team could immediately begin play at the Delta Center while they explore options for a long-term solution for a hockey arena.

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Chandler Holt is a co-host for the Jazz Notes podcast and a Digital Sports Producer for KSLSports.com, specializing in all things basketball and football. Follow Chandler on Twitter @ChandlerHoltKSL or on Threads @chandlerho1t.

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Utah Legislators Approve Bill For Brand New Downtown NBA/NHL Arena