What we know about where Salt Lake City’s new NHL team will play — and how it could change

An effort to transform a swath of downtown Salt Lake City into a sports and entertainment hub is in motion.

Arizona Coyotes' Dylan Guenther skates past fans as players warm up for an NHL hockey game against the Edmonton Oilers on Wednesday, April 17, 2024, in Tempe, Ariz. The Coyotes are moving to Salt Lake City. (AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin)

Utah’s capital is a hockey town now.

The Beehive State’s pro sports tycoon, Utah Jazz owner Ryan Smith, has long wanted a National Hockey League franchise, and now he has one. The Arizona Coyotes skated off the ice in Tempe for the final time Wednesday and are slated to stroll into their new Salt Lake City digs next season.

Here’s what we know about where the team will call home, and what the future may hold:

Team will play at Delta Center next season

(Rick Egan | The Salt Lake Tribune) Los Angeles Kings fans celebrate the Kings' 4-3 overtime win over the San Jose Sharks at Delta Center on Thursday, Oct. 5, 2023.

Smith’s new team, which will shed the Coyotes name, will play in the Jazz’s longtime downtown home when players take the ice next season.

The arena regularly hosts preseason NHL games, but the place wasn’t built for hockey. Putting a regulation size sheet of ice on the floor requires some bowl seats to be taken out, shrinking the venue’s capacity.

Smith told NHL.com he wants to use Delta Center as a dual-sport arena, adding that he reviewed plans to get the stadium’s capacity to about 17,500 for hockey.

Downtown SLC could get a pro sports makeover

(Ryan Smith via X) Utah Jazz owner Ryan Smith posted this rendering of the proposed downtown sports and entertainment district on X on Tuesday, Feb. 27, 2024.

During Utah’s 2024 legislative session, Smith lobbied lawmakers to sign off on a bill aimed at overhauling downtown with a taxpayer-backed sports and entertainment district. The idea is to create a bustling area that will entertain fans before, during and after games, and give Utah’s capital a hub for year-round activity.

Legislators approved the bill, SB272, which allows Salt Lake City to issue up to a billion dollars in bonds. Those bonds would be repaid by a sales tax increase of up to 0.5 percentage points, which would bring the total sales tax rate here to 8.25%.

That extra money could help renovate the existing arena or pay for a new stadium.

The mayor is all about an arena district

(Trent Nelson | The Salt Lake Tribune) Salt Lake City Mayor Erin Mendenhall delivers her State of the City address on Tuesday, Jan. 30, 2024.

Mayor Erin Mendenhall has envisioned a sports and entertainment district for a while now. She used her biggest stage of the year — her State of the City speech — to make a case for such a development.

During the legislative session, she called the bill that would help make a sports district a reality “truly transformative” for Utah’s capital.

Ryan Smith has started sports district process

(Trent Nelson | The Salt Lake Tribune) Ryan Smith at the NBA All-Star game in Salt Lake City on Sunday, Feb. 19, 2023.

Part of the law that allows the city to hike taxes for a new sports district requires Smith to submit an application to City Hall. He did that April 4, kicking off the process to work with the city on the new zone.

City officials are reviewing the submission now and will work with Smith to negotiate the boundaries of the district and how the tax revenue will be spent.

What’s coming next?

(Trent Nelson | The Salt Lake Tribune) City Hall and downtown Salt Lake City on Thursday, Jan. 25, 2024.

Smith and the city have to have everything worked out by Sept. 1, but the city is working on a faster timeline.

Smith Entertainment Group and city officials are expected to brief the City Council on the terms of a draft agreement May 7. A final vote could come July 2.