How Would NHL Move Affect Utah Jazz, Delta Center?

Apr 12, 2024, 11:29 AM

SALT LAKE CITY – With the growing likelihood of the Arizona Coyotes relocating to Salt Lake City, what effect will an NHL team have on the Utah Jazz?

Ryan Smith, owner of the Jazz and the chairman of the Smith Entertainment Group is forging the way for the NHL to land in Utah, and appears to be putting the final touches on the landscape-altering move.

RELATED: Ryan Smith Asks Utahns About Potential NHL Hockey Team Names

With the puck dropping in Utah as soon as the 2024-25 season, let’s look at the ways the Jazz could be impacted.

How Would An NHL Move Affect The Utah Jazz?

With no plans to play at the Maverik Center, home to the ECHL’s Utah Grizzlies, the Jazz would start sharing Delta Center with an NHL team starting in October.

While Delta Center has hosted preseason NHL games (dubbed the “Frozen Fury”) each of the last four seasons, the Jazz have never had to work their schedule around the hockey season on a full-time basis.

Like the NBA, the NHL regular season runs from October to April, with the Stanley Cup Playoffs stretching into June.

Though an added wrinkle, 10 arenas across the country already play host to both the NBA and the NHL, including Crypto Arena in Los Angeles which houses the Lakers, the Clippers, and the Kings.

Here’s a look at some current trends in both the NBA and NHL.

During the regular season, 56 percent of the NBA’s games are played on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday, with generally lighter schedules on Tuesday, Thursday, Saturday, and Sunday.

In the NHL, nearly 60 percent of the regular season games are played on Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday, providing an opportunity for the Jazz to stick with a familiar schedule for fans.

While scheduling gets more difficult in the postseason due to the uncertainty of which teams will qualify, and how deep of a run they will make, the NBA and NHL are adept at working together.

NHL Means More Construction For Delta Center

While fans remember the renovation that took place at the then-Vivint Arena in 2017, the construction required to update Delta Center to house an NHL team would be a considerably larger project.

The current layout inside the arena limits views of a hockey rink, meaning ownership can’t sell the same 18,206 tickets to NHL fans as they would a Jazz home game.

Related: Utah Legislature Approves Bill For New NBA/NHL Arena

Delta Center has had a capacity of 10,420 seats during the Frozen Fury event, but that number could be subject to change if hockey is played in the arena’s current layout beginning next season.

With limited time before the beginning of the 2024-25 season, there likely wouldn’t be major overhauls to the arena this summer, but they could begin in the 2025 offseason, and stretch over multiple years.

Two Teams Headed In Different Directions

Though things can change quickly in the NBA, as of now, the Jazz and the would-be NHL team from Arizona are headed in drastically different directions.

The Jazz are still in the demolition process of their rebuild, the Coyotes are viewed as one of the NHL’s most exciting young teams.

After winning 24, 25, and 28 games over the last three seasons, the Coyotes have won 34 contests this year entering the final weekend of the season.

Related: How Competetive Are The Arizona Coyotes?

With a trio of promising forwards in Logan Cooley, Dylan Guenther, and Josh Doan, and a wealth of draft picks, the Coyotes could be back in the playoff picture as soon as next season with the right front office moves.

While much could change in the offseason for the Jazz, they’re currently 15 games out of the Western Conference playoff race with two games left to play.

Under the same ownership in Ryan Smith, there shouldn’t be a sense of competition between the Jazz and the future NHL team, but sports fans in Utah may see their interest levels fluctuate between the two franchises based on which team is performing better that season.

Ryan Smith: Sports Leader In Utah

One thing is for certain, if Smith can bring an NHL team to the state, he’ll have further etched his name into the annals of sports leaders in Utah history.

While Gail and Larry H. Miller have long been considered titans in the state, Ryan and Ashley Smith will have accomplished what was long thought of as a pipe dream by bringing a new team from one of the other three major sports leagues to Utah.

The acquisition will further cement Utah as a major player in the world of American sports, and make Smith the eighth multi-league majority owner in the NBA among the four major sports leagues.

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Ben Anderson is the Utah Jazz insider for KSL Sports and the co-host of Jake and Ben from 10-12p with Jake Scott on 97.5 The KSL Sports Zone. Find Ben on Twitter at @BensHoops or on Instagram @BensHoops.

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How Would NHL Move Affect Utah Jazz, Delta Center?