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Who is Ryan Smith? Owner of Utah Jazz and the Man Bringing NHL to the City

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Ryan Smith, the energetic entrepreneur behind the Utah Jazz and the upcoming NHL franchise in Salt Lake City, is making waves in the sports world. A recent tweet by Smith himself (@RyanQualtrics) highlights his enthusiasm for bringing hockey to Utah:

“Last week, I told our NHL players why they’ll love Utah. Today, they’re here to see for themselves. Come to the Delta Center at 4pm today to help us welcome our new team to Utah! Free JDawgs, incredible giveaways, and get to know the players. Big things ahead!”

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This statement underscores Smith’s commitment to building excitement for the new NHL team and further solidifies his position as a key figure in Utah’s sports landscape.

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Ryan Smith’s Qualtrics Journey

Who is Ryan Smith? Owner of Utah Jazz and the Man Bringing NHL to the City - THE SPORTS ROOM

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Ryan Smith, born on June 28, 1978, in Eugene, Oregon, is the executive chairman and co-founder of Qualtrics—an experience management company based in Provo, Utah. Under his leadership, Qualtrics became a category-defining tech powerhouse, culminating in its acquisition by German software giant SAP in a record-breaking $8 billion deal in 2018.

In October 2020, Smith made headlines when he bought a majority stake in the Utah Jazz of the National Basketball Association (NBA) from Gail Miller. The sale included not only the team but also the Delta Center (now Vivint Arena), the Salt Lake City Stars of the NBA G League, and management of the Salt Lake Bees—a comprehensive sports package.

Smith’s love for basketball and commitment to Utah’s community fueled this acquisition. The Jazz, with their storied history and passionate fan base, became a canvas for Ryan Smith’s vision. He hosted the successful 2023 NBA All-Star Game in Salt Lake City, showcasing the city’s vibrancy and potential.

But Ryan Smith didn’t stop there. In January 2022, he teamed up with investor David Blitzer to purchase Real Salt Lake of Major League Soccer (MLS). The acquisition included America First Field, affiliate Real Monarchs, and Zions Bank Stadium. The duo also reestablished the Utah Royals of the National Women’s Soccer League (NWSL) in 2023, with the original team becoming the Kansas City Current in 2020.

Smith’s ambitions extend beyond basketball and soccer. As early as 2022, he expressed interest in bringing an NHL team to Salt Lake City. Discussions about expansion or relocation have been ongoing, and in January 2024, Ryan Smith’s Smith Entertainment Group formally requested the NHL to open an expansion process.

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