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Church of Latter-day Saints supports legislation to help bring NHL to Salt Lake City

Utah Jazz logo Utah Jazz logo - Melissa Majchrzak/NBAE via Getty Images

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, one of the largest property owners in Salt Lake City, has voiced its support of legislation that would help bring an NHL team to the Utah capital. 

"The Church has always demonstrated interest in making sure Utah’s capital city remains vibrant and attractive, both for those who live and work here as well as those who visit," it told local FOX 13 News in a statement on Thursday. "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."

Utah Jazz owners Ryan and Ashley Smith announced in January that they have the immediate ability to bring an NHL team to Salt Lake City and requested the initiation of an expansion process. The Smith Entertainment Group (SEG) said in a news release it would use the Jazz’s arena the Delta Center as an interim home for an NHL franchise. Ryan Smith added that the company is, "100% focused on making this happen as soon as possible.'

According to FOX 13, a bill to create a special "sports and entertainment district" - including an NHL arena in the downtown area - is making its way through the state legislature and its House of Representatives could vote for it at any time before the end of the 2024 Utah State Legislature on Friday night.

Talks between Smith and the league have been going on since 2022. The NHL said in a statement it appreciates the interest.

“During conversations over the course of the past two years, we have been impressed by Ryan and Ashley Smith’s commitment to their community and their passion and vision for Utah, not only as a hockey market but as a preeminent sports and entertainment destination,” the league said in a statement in January. "Utah is a promising market, and we look forward to continuing our discussions.”

Five NHL exhibition games had been held at the Delta Center, the home of the Jazz, since 2018. SEG said the location for a potential new arena designed for hockey is yet to be determined.

Utah governor Spencer Cox said the state's history with hockey, strong economy, passionate sports fans and young and active population make it ripe for the addition of another team, while Salt Lake City bids for the 2034 Winter Olympics.

Files from Salt Lake City's FOX 13 and The Associated Press were used for this report.