Will Arctos investment bring back Utah Royals?

Arctos Sports Partners is investing in Smith Entertainment Group (SEG) with the express purpose of bringing a third pro sports franchise to Utah—with the wide assumption being this represents the return of NWSL’s Utah Royals.

Smith Entertainment Group (SEG) ownership includes the NBA’s Utah Jazz and Vivent Arena, as well as investments in MLS’s Real Salt Lake and Rio Tinto Stadium. The Arctos partnership includes minority investment across multiple SEG properties, including the Jazz, and Vivint Arena. Previously, Arctos has invested in over 20 professional sports groups and franchises and was the first firm of its kind to invest across MLB, MLS, NHL and NBA. Its investments include Fenway Sports Group, Chicago Cubs, Golden State Warriors, and Los Angeles Dodgers.

As part of the sale of the Utah Royals to Kansas City investors and the sale of Real Salt Lake to David Blitzer and SEG, the new owners were given an option for a new NWSL team. Blitzer has spoken of his desire to see the NWSL team return to the Beehive State, saying it was a matter of if, not when. And given the chance to land a NWSL team at a considerable discount in a market that previously support pro women’s soccer, NWSL would be the logical assumption.

For now, no one is saying what third team is in the works, with some of the wilder guesses being the NHL or the NFL coming to town. But hey, it never hurts to dream big if you’re an SLC sports fan.

“My wife Ashley and I are passionate about the state of Utah and are committed to building organizations that can be a unifying force in our community. Few things do that as powerfully as sports,” said Ryan Smith, chairman of Smith Entertainment Group, via press release. “We are excited to partner with Arctos. They are committed to Utah and to investing in this community and our sports teams and facilities. As SEG continues to build out the professional sports landscape in the state, the Arctos partnership brings strong commitment to Utah sports and a deep connection across all major sports leagues.”

“We believe in Utah and all the amazing things happening in the state and we believe SEG is poised to be the next big sports and entertainment group. Ryan Smith has an eye for opportunity and innovation, and we look forward to supporting his vision for Smith Entertainment Group and Utah sports fans,” said Chad Hutchinson, partner of Arctos Sports Partners, via press release. “Arctos works with visionary ownership groups, and Utah has that in SEG. Their commitment to giving back to the community and building world-class franchises align perfectly with Arctos’ mission. We are excited to work with Ryan and the team to explore more sports-related opportunities around the state and the opportunity to build a premier sports and entertainment center here.”

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August Publications