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L.A. Kings to play game in Salt Lake City free of taxpayer dollars before heading to Quebec

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The L.A. Kings will play a 2024 preseason game free of taxpayer dollars in the bettors' favourite next city to get an NHL expansion team... and it's not Quebec City.

The Kings announced that the team will play their "Frozen Fury" preseason game against the Vegas Golden Knights in Salt Lake City's Delta Centre on Sept. 23.

Salt Lake City is home to the NBA's Utah Jazz, and neither the municipal nor state governments are involved in the game financially.

"Neither Salt Lake City nor the State of Utah has ever been involved with organizing Frozen Fury or Delta Centre's ability to host the event," said Utah Jazz Communications Director Caroline Klein. "Frozen Fury is held in partnership between the Utah Jazz / Delta Centre and the LA Kings and does receive some support from the Utah Sports Commission."

The game is days before the Kings are set to travel to Quebec City to play preseason games against Boston and Florida in the provincial capital on Oct. 3 and 5.

Quebec Premier François Legault defended his government's decision to pay upwards of $7 million to subsidize the games saying, "it's important to invest in leisure, whether it's sports or culture."

The Montreal Canadiens pointed out after the announcement that they would have played the games for free.

The Salt Lake City game is the result of Delta Centre Senior Vice-President of Events Mark Powell cold-calling Kings President Luc Robitaille on the idea of bringing a Kings game to the arena, Klein added.

"They developed a friendship over a few months and Luc finally expressed interest and they made a deal happen," said Klein. "Salt Lake City is known for hosting incredible events so the city was ready with infrastructure and Delta Centre was prepared to accommodate hockey."

Long odds for a Nordiques return

The game in Salt Lake City may be a preview of what an NHL game could look like in the city that hosted the 2002 Olympics, much to the chagrin of Quebec fans hoping for a second franchise in the province.

Legault added that he hopes NHL commissioner Gary Bettman attends the game and sees the possibility of having a franchise in Quebec City.

"What we're aiming for is to say, we have a, I would say, world-class arena ... it's time that the NHL agrees to give a franchise, to have the return of the Nordiques," said Legault.

Salt Lake City is the bookies.com betting favourite city to get the next NHL expansion team (+250 odds), followed by Houston (+300), Atlanta (+500) and Kansas City (+750).

Quebec has the fifth-highest odds at +1,200.

It should be noted that Houston, Atlanta and Salt Lake City all have world-class arenas that host NBA teams.

Kansas City's T-Mobile Centre can also host 17,544 hockey fans, and city officials have been in contact with the NHL about an expansion team in the past.

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