LDS Church weighs in on Utah’s NHL arena plans

Push to build a hockey arena in downtown Salt Lake City wins support from a key player.

(Trent Nelson | The Salt Lake Tribune) The LDS Church Office Building in Salt Lake City on Tuesday, Dec. 12, 2023.

Utah’s push to build a National Hockey League arena in downtown Salt Lake City added another key supporter: The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

The church, which is headquartered in Salt Lake City and owns significant property in downtown, said the arena project could “refresh and revitalize” downtown.

“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,” church spokesperson Doug Andersen said in a statement. “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.”

The church did not say whether it supported SB272, which would raise about $1 billion of public funds for a sports and entertainment district.

The bill, which received final approval Friday and now awaits the governor’s signature, could increase Salt Lake City’s sales tax by 0.5%. That would go to paying off the bonds issued to build the 10-block entertainment district around the NHL arena.

Utah Jazz owner Ryan Smith has proposed the possibility of a Jazz and NHL entertainment district similar to The Battery in Atlanta.

This bill’s passage Friday comes on top of a separate fundraising effort to build a Major League Baseball stadium by the Jordan River and Utah State Fairpark. That bill could raise an additional $900 million in state funds.

The LDS Church owns almost 25% of the land in the downtown area, making its voice in the NHL project significant.

The church is currently renovating the Salt Lake Temple, which could reopen in 2026. It has also considered other Temple Square renovations.

Beyond its headquarters, the church owns the City Creek Center mall downtown. The Triad Center and parking lot just north of the Delta Center are also owned by the faith.

In total, the church’s owns an estimated 150 acres in downtown that is worth around $2.3 billion, according to an analysis done in 2022.