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Holladay Journal

Life & Laughter: Utah’s Miracle on Ice

Jun 03, 2024 11:03AM ● By Peri Kinder

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Don’t get me wrong. I’m all for men beating each other with sticks but the ice-palooza circus we’ve experienced as the National Hockey League moved a team to Utah has been a bit much.

My sports-crazed husband is in hockey high-heaven, and he’s not alone. The former Arizona Coyotes (but currently unnamed Utah team) was welcomed by a multitude of rabid hockey fans as the team arrived in Salt Lake. The Utah Snow Angels (?) will now undergo a terrifying assimilation into the state’s culture. 

Ryan Smith, new owner of the Utah Iceholes (?), spent $1.2 billion to bring the NHL team here and he has Big Plans! Plans that include restructuring a mall to create a hockey training center, reconfiguring the Delta Center so fans can see all the bloody hockey fights and gaining extreme control over three city blocks in downtown Salt Lake, although he promised not to blast the beloved Abravanel Hall to rubble. Yet.

In the ultimate power play, Smith asked lawmakers to contribute another $1 billion to the project, which includes a sales tax increase, so everyone can help finance the Utah Snowplows’ (?) salvation of the state’s pro sports scene.

(Sidenote: Sales tax? Really? Have our lawmakers seen the lines outside of food banks? People can’t afford Cheerios, let alone tickets to a hockey game.)

But it’s not just hockey. Government and business groups are willing to toss billions (BILLIONS) of dollars around to fund baseball stadiums in Daybreak and, potentially, Salt Lake’s west side. 

This is a slap-shot to the face for women’s sports in Utah. If we’re going to invest billions, can legislators squeak the wallet open a bit more to give a portion to female teams? A survey showed overwhelming support for a redesign of the current Salt Lake Bees stadium to become a female-focused sports center. Where are the billions of dollars for that project?

Did you know our state has a championship female/non-binary Pro Ultimate Frisbee team, the Utah Wild? We also host the Utah Falconz, part of the Women’s National Football Conference. Where do they play? On high school football fields. The only reason the Utah Royal’s soccer team has a beautiful venue is because it was built for Real, a men’s team.

Don’t whine and say, “But nobody cares about women’s sports.” For its opening game this year, the Royals set a record for the highest-attended women’s sporting event in Utah history.

Millions of fans watched the women’s college final as Caitlin Clark played her last game before being drafted into the WNBA with a four-year, $338,000 contract. I’m sure she was offered the same amount as her male counterpart, the first overall draft pick in last year’s NBA. 

Record scratch! Hold up! Last year, top draft pick Victor Wembanyama signed a four-year contract with the Spurs worth $55.2 million. Sigh.

Acquiring the Utah Frostbite (?) was a great accomplishment, but the state has a chance to pull off a phenomenal hat trick: develop a hockey fan base, build a baseball utopia and create a haven for women’s sports. 

How cool would it be, for a state that ranks last in women’s pay equality, to invest in women’s athletics? What message would that send to our daughters and granddaughters?

I don’t know much about hockey but its success shouldn’t come with a sales tax increase, carte blanche control over a key center of downtown or at the expense of women’s sports. 

With its shiny new logo and sparkly Zambonis, the Utah Windchill (?) could have a great first season as fans get behind them. But don’t be fooled. Hockey isn’t the only game in town.