Gary Bettman says there are plans to increase capacity at Delta Center in Utah to 17,000

NHL commissioner Gary Bettman joins the Hockey Central to detail why he thought Salt Lake City was appropriate target for a relocation, why Smith Group is a good fit as the owner, and the future of the NHL in Arizona

The ink is barely dry on the Coyotes’ relocation to Utah and plans to increase capacity at their arena are already underway.

NHL commissioner Gary Bettman told NHL Network’s Adnan Virk on Thursday that the team is working on increasing the number of unobstructed seats at Delta Center to 17,000 from 12,000 within two seasons.

“There are plans, which I’ve seen. It’ll take two summers to do it, after this summer,” Bettman said. “The unobstructed capacity will be 17,000 when they’re done. And while it’s 12,000 unobstructed now, there’s still another 4,000 obstructed seats for the temporary part of this.”

The jump to 12,000 in the first year is still a big step up for the team, as the former rink at Mullett Arena on Arizona State University’s campus only seated 4,600 for NHL games.

“What really was underlying all this was what we thought would be a temporary facility, meaning Mullett … We were looking under a best-case of three to five years,” Bettman told Virk. “It wasn’t appropriate for the league, it’s not a major league building, and it wasn’t fair to the players.”

The Utah hockey team will share the Delta Center with the Utah Jazz until a new rink is built. That project is in the early stages of development ahead of Salt Lake City likely hosting the 2034 Winter Olympics.

The team is already putting that higher capacity to good use, as owner Ryan Smith took to X, formerly known as Twitter, on Thursday to announce that 11,000 and counting season ticket deposits had already made.

The NHL announced the move Thursday, following an emotional final game at Mullett Arena on Wednesday night. The move, which has been an open secret for a week, was officially approved by the NHL Board of Governors after a vote on Thursday afternoon.

The team will be purchased by Ryan and Ashley Smith in a $1.2-billion deal brokered by the league. The Smiths are owners of Smith Entertainment Group, whose portfolio includes the NBA’s Jazz and MLS’s Real Salt Lake.

— With files from the Associated Press

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