Amid NFL expansion rumors, Gov. Spencer Cox says there’s no ‘limit on how hard I’d push’ to bring pro football to Utah

But he believes Utah’s odds of one day landing Major League Baseball ‘probably a little higher’

(David Becker | AP) Las Vegas Raiders wide receiver Bryan Edwards (89) celebrates after scoring a touchdown against the Kansas City Chiefs during the second half of an NFL football game, Sunday, Nov. 14, 2021, in Las Vegas.

With reports surfacing this week that the NFL is considering the possibility of significant expansion, Utah Gov. Spencer Cox expressed his interest in one day bringing professional football to Salt Lake City.

“I don’t know that there’s a limit on how hard I’d push to get an NFL team in the state of Utah,” Cox said at his monthly news conference Thursday. “… If there’s an opportunity for an NFL franchise here in Utah, we’d be all over that.”

But even amid reports that the NFL could add as many as eight new teams in the coming years, growing the league up to 40 total franchises, Cox acknowledged that Utah’s odds of landing a pro team would be slim.

“I understand the NFL market,” he said. “Utah is a fast-growing market, but would still be on the very small end of a potential NFL franchise.”

Instead, Cox said that Utah officials have worked to make connections with the Las Vegas Raiders.

“We’ve been working closely with the Raiders to help them expand and do more with Utah,” he said. “There’s a natural connection there.”

The governor also said he believed Utah’s odds of one day being home to a Major League Baseball team “are probably a little higher than an NFL franchise at some point.”

“We’re keeping our eyes on that and will continue to watch and learn more about the process for potential expansion,” he said.

Asked if he supported providing incentives to lure a professional sporting franchise to Utah, Cox said “ultimately that is a decision that would be made by the taxpayers of the state through their elected representatives.”

“I don’t like giving billionaires money from taxpayers. I think that’s a mistake,” he said.

Cox did say he has supported tax-increment funding for stadiums and could potentially support providing a parcel of land for a stadium site.

“But you see some of those billionaires holding people hostage to write them a check to pay for a stadium. It’s terrible economics, it’s bad politics and it’s bad for people. I don’t support that,” he said. “… I don’t support where I’ve seen people threaten to move the team if you don’t build us a billion-dollar stadium. That’s crazy and any billionaire who asks for that should be embarrassed.”