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New name? New arena? What would the NHL’s Coyotes in Utah look like?

SALT LAKE CITY (ABC4) — It’s all but official that Salt Lake City will be the new home for the Arizona Coyotes.

Over the weekend, ESPN reported the NHL brokered the deal to move the Coyotes to Utah, where they will begin play in the 2024-25 season at the Delta Center, home of the Utah Jazz. While the NHL and the Smith Entertainment Group, owners of the Jazz, have yet to make any official announcement, that is expected to come later this week.

So what will it look like to have the Utah Jazz and Utah’s future NHL team sharing the same stadium? Will the Delta Center undergo renovations to accommodate the two teams? Can Utahns expect the Coyotes to go under a new name?

Sharing an arena?

The NBA and NHL seasons run at the same time, stretching six months from October to April, not including pre- or post-season. If the two do end up sharing the Delta Center, it would mean the two leagues will have to juggle scheduling 82 games between basketball and hockey.

While that sounds like a titan of a task, it’s not impossible.

Currently, there are 10 arenas across the United States and Canada shared by both NHL and NBA. Most of the time, the two teams will mirror one another. While one team is on the road, the other plays at home. However, that’s not always the case.

Earlier this season the New York Rangers played hockey at Madison Square Garden on Oct. 16 and Oct. 19. The New York Knicks took over for one night on Oct. 18.

Thankfully, it doesn’t seem to take long to convert an arena from basketball to hockey and back again. The United Center in Chicago, home of the Chicago Blackhawks and the Chicago Bulls, takes a little more than two hours to make the swap, according to reporting from the Chicago Tribune.

So while there won’t be much of a scheduling conflict for both the Jazz and the Coyotes, there is the question of will the Delta Center be ready.

Delta Center renovations?

Utah Jazz owner Ryan Smith has proven hockey games can be played at the Delta Center. Since 2021, Frozen Fury — a preseason series between Las Vegas Knights and Los Angeles Kings — has been exclusively hosted in Salt Lake City. But that doesn’t mean Smith wouldn’t want a few upgrades.

If there were to be some renovations, the initial ones likely wouldn’t be very extensive — just enough to make the center playable for both leagues easily. There is only a six-month off-season to facilitate work on the arena, after all. However, some Salt Lakers are already groaning about the Delta Center’s unfavorable NHL configuration.

Depending on where you sit during an NHL game, the entire rink may not be visible. Either the far end is blocked or the space directly below is out of sight, according to commenters online. But Smith has a vision.

Earlier this year, Smith shared a render that showed a new look for Salt Lake City’s downtown. At the heart of that render was a brand new arena, presumably to be designed to host the two leagues with ease.

The proposed arena has been at the center of some controversy, however, as the Utah legislature passed a bill that could see Salt Lake sales taxes by up to 0.5%. The bill passed with landslide success in both houses and was signed by Utah Gov. Spencer Cox. Meanwhile, some Salt Lake City residents have complained about funding a multi-million dollar project with taxpayer funds.

There is still a lot of uncertainty surrounding a new arena in Salt Lake City but rest assured ABC4 will follow those developments as they happen. Another area of uncertainty is what a Utah NHL team would be called.

Coyotes getting a new name?

While it seems the Arizona Coyotes players and staff will be moving to Utah, they might be doing so without their signature colors or logos. Chris Johnston with The Athletic reported that Coyotes owner Alex Meruelo will hold on to the rights to the Coyotes brand as part of the deal to relocate the team to Salt Lake.

This means the Utah NHL team will need a new name and — while this is speculative — it appears the Utah Yeti is the clear winner, if social media fans have their say.

Last week, Ryan Smith put the feelers out on different names for a potential Utah-based NHL team. While fans were quick to offer up suggestions, Yetis rose to the top as the popular choice. One astute person on Twitter noticed the website “utahyeti.com” was purchased over the weekend. Fans who attended Saturday’s Real Salt Lake game, which Smith also has part ownership of, may have also noticed a standee with cartoonish yetis in the plaza of America First Field.

While these developments don’t necessarily guarantee the Coyotes will rebrand into the Yeti, it does seem to be the favorable option.

More information is expected to come out in the next week. National Hockey League officials are reportedly expected to announce the move at the end of the regular season, according to ESPN.

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