NBA basketball and Major League Soccer have been popular in Utah for many years, but residents are eager for more professional sports options. A recent poll conducted by the Deseret News/Hinckley Institute of Politics revealed the top preferences for new pro sports teams in the state.
Utah boasts a dedicated fan base, with impressive attendance numbers. The Utah Jazz consistently sell out their home games, averaging over 18,000 fans per game. Real Salt Lake, the state’s MLS team, also draws a substantial crowd, averaging over 20,000 fans at each home match. The popularity of college football is also evident, with BYU Cougar football attracting an average of nearly 60,000 fans per home game and the University of Utah Utes averaging over 52,000 fans.
While Utahns already have a strong sports scene, they are interested in adding more options. According to the poll, the NFL narrowly beat out Major League Baseball as the most desired addition, with 33% and 31% support, respectively. A National Women’s Soccer League franchise was the third most sought after, with 18% support. The National Hockey League and Women’s National Basketball League rounded out the list with 10% and 9% support, respectively.
There are currently efforts to bring MLB and NHL teams to Utah, with the state being considered as a potential future site for an NFL franchise as well. Governor Spencer Cox has expressed enthusiasm for the possibility of new pro sports teams in Utah, but also emphasizes the importance of fiscal responsibility and avoiding excessive taxpayer involvement.
Utah’s strong economy, growing population, and successful track record in hosting major sporting events make it an attractive location for professional sports. Tech entrepreneur Ryan Smith, who owns the Utah Jazz, is also interested in bringing an NHL franchise to Utah under his Smith Entertainment Group. Smith believes that Utah’s love for sports, as evidenced by the Jazz’s consistent sellouts and the success of the 2023 NBA All-Star Weekend, makes it a viable market for professional hockey.
Overall, Utah residents are eager for more pro sports options and are willing to support and attend games. The state’s strong fan base and successful sports teams make it an appealing location for new franchises.