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Tuesday, May 21, 2024

Utah Fans Rush for Season Tickets (for a New NHL Team With No Name)

  • More than 20,000 season-ticket deposits have been made for the newly relocated NHL team.
  • Uncertainty continues to surround what the franchise will be called.
Rob Gray-USA TODAY Sports

It certainly didn’t take long for Utah hockey fans to register their excitement about the Coyotes moving to the Beehive State. 

Less than 24 hours after the formal announcement on Thursday of the team’s relocation to Salt Lake City, new team owner Ryan Smith said more than 20,000 season ticket deposits, costing $100 each, have been made to see the team at the Delta Center (above). Smith also owns the NBA’s Jazz and two local pro soccer teams, and priority access for the season-ticket deposits was given to current Jazz plan holders.

The Delta Center, which was originally designed for basketball, currently offers 12,000 seats that have unobstructed views for hockey, but part of the broader renovation plans for the 32-year-old building is to boost that number to 17,000.

The arrival of the NHL franchise in Utah, meanwhile, provides further momentum behind a broader facility vision that is still being formulated. That plan could include both redevelopment around the Delta Center in downtown Salt Lake City, and over a longer term, potentially a second arena that would be a focal point of the city’s ongoing bid for the 2034 Olympics. 

Uncertain Name

The nickname for the Utah franchise is one of the leading unanswered questions in the move, though Smith could speak further about any emerging plans there at a press conference with NHL commissioner Gary Bettman scheduled for Friday evening. Here’s what we do know:

  • The full team name will start with Utah as opposed to Salt Lake City, mirroring the naming for the Jazz. 
  • Smith has hired ad agency Doubleday & Cartwright, which has aided the rebranding of several other pro teams, to help develop the team’s name and logo. 
  • Earlier this week trademark applications were filed with federal authorities for the Utah Blizzard, Utah Venom, Utah Fury, Utah HC, and Utah Hockey Club. The applications were anonymous, and it’s not certain that Smith or the NHL is involved. But the timing of those filings closely preceded the formal announcement of the franchise move. On Thursday, a subsequent application from the same group was also filed for the Utah Yetis. 
  • It’s possible that the team will at first have a generic moniker, such as Utah HC, serving as a placeholder while the broader rebranding continues. If so, that more graduated process will resemble the transition undertaken by the NFL’s Commanders, previously known as the Washington Football Team.

An Unexpected Local Rebuke

Coyotes owner Alex Meruelo acknowledged publicly he is on board with what’s happening with the franchise, saying that he agreed that it was “simply unfair” to maintain the status quo at Arizona State’s Mullett Arena, a 5,000-seat venue far smaller and less equipped than what is standard in the NHL. But it was surprising to some that criticism of the move came from MLB’s Diamondbacks, a team seeking to solve their own growing facility problem.

The team released a statement saying in part that, “we firmly believe that we deserve and can support teams from each of the major sports and are troubled that a solution could not not be found for all parties involved. We are sad for all sports fans and all who care so deeply who care about our community.”

The Diamondbacks, however, not only said in February “we may run out of time in Phoenix,” and they also were part of a unanimous vote in November certifying the planned relocation of the A’s from Oakland to Las Vegas.

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