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Tour of Ten: The Utah Sports Edition

Billionaire businessman Ryan Smith added to his portfolio of sports franchises this spring by acquiring the Arizona Coyotes of the National Hockey League and announcing their relocation to Salt Lake City. That further bolsters the state of Utah’s sports scene, which is surprisingly robust. Here’s a roundup of key sports teams calling the state of Utah home in our latest Tour of Ten . . .

Utah NHL Team (NHL)

The Coyotes struggled to find success in all their years in Arizona, and more recently struggled to find a place to call home in the state. That led to the NHL finally pulling the plug on the team and selling them to Smith, who was well known to be interested in bringing hockey to Salt Lake City. The Coyotes missed the playoffs this past season, finishing 36-41-5 and second-last in their division.

Utah Jazz (NBA)

Smith also owns the NBA’s Utah Jazz, who moved to Salt Lake City from New Orleans back in 1979 (hence the nickname that doesn’t really fit with Utah’s reputation). Smith bought the team in 2020. The past two seasons have not been kind to the Jazz, who missed the playoffs both years. Utah has never won the NBA championship, losing in the NBA Finals in back-to-back years in 1997 and 1998. The Jazz play at the Delta Center in Salt Lake City, which they will now share with the NHL team.

Real Salt Lake (MLS)

Smith became an owner of Real Salt Lake of Major League Soccer in 2022. Real Salt Lake joined MLS as an expansion team in 2005 and plays at America First Field in the suburbs of Salt Lake City. The high-water mark for the franchise was their victory in the 2009 MLS Cup over the LA Galaxy.

Utah Royals (NWSL)

And Smith’s fourth and final Utah sports franchise is the Utah Royals of the National Women’s Soccer League. The Royals joined the NWSL as an expansion team in 2018 and played two seasons before ceasing operations; Smith has since revived the team to play at America First Field for 2024.

Utah Warriors (MLR)

The Utah Warriors are a part of Major League Rugby, and play at Zions Bank Stadium in Herriman, Utah (south of Salt Lake City). MLR was founded in 2017 and began play in 2018, with the Warriors an original member of the league. Their top result was a loss in the 2021 West Conference Final.

Salt Lake Bees (MiLB AAA)

The top-level baseball club in Utah are the Pacific Coast League’s Salt Lake Bees, the Triple-A affiliate of the Los Angeles Angels. The Bees play at Smith’s Ballpark in Salt Lake City and were founded in 1994. Like their parent MLB club, the Bees have struggled in the standings in recent years and have advanced to the playoffs just one time (in 2021) over the last nine seasons.

Utah Grizzlies (ECHL)

Utah’s top hockey team prior to the Coyotes’ relocation was the Grizzlies, who have been a member of the ECHL (the second-highest minor league level) since the 2005/06 season. An affiliate of the NHL’s Colorado Avalanche, the Grizzlies went 31-36-5 and missed the playoffs this past season. The Grizzlies play at the Maverik Center in West Valley City, a suburb to the west of Salt Lake City.

Utah Utes (NCAA)

Located in Salt Lake City, the University of Utah is an NCAA D-1 school that plays football at Rice-Eccles Stadium, basketball at the Jon M. Huntsman Center, and baseball at Smith’s Ballpark. The Utes were a member of the Pac-12 Conference but will move to the Big 12 Conference in 2024.

Utah State Aggies (NCAA)

Utah State University, meanwhile, is in Logan, Utah (north of Salt Lake City) and is also an NCAA D-1 school; their football team plays at Maverik Stadium and their basketball teams play at the Dee Glen Smith Spectrum. The Aggies play their sports as members of the Mountain West Conference.

BYU Cougars (NCAA)

And the third NCAA D-1 school in the state of Utah are the BYU Cougars, located in Provo, Utah (south of Salt Lake City). The Cougars play football at LaVell Edwards Stadium, basketball at the Marriott Center, and baseball at Larry H. Miller Field, and are also Big 12 Conference members.

With zero championships between his MLB, NHL, and NFL teams over the last 30 years, Dave keeps one foot in the past while shaking his fist at the present. Having provided content to all manner of sports websites over a 20-year career in the industry, Dave brings to Attiq an eye for all things editorial and a disdain for all things New York Yankees. Click here for Dave's posts.