List of professional sports teams in Utah

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Professional sports teams based in Utah encompass multiple teams including the NBA's Utah Jazz and Major League Soccer's Real Salt Lake. Utah is the least populous U.S. state to have major professional sports league franchises.

Current teams[edit]

Utah professional sports teams (current)
Club Year introduced Sport League
Utah Jazz 1979 Basketball National Basketball Association
Real Salt Lake 2004 Soccer Major League Soccer
Salt Lake City Sparta 2007 Soccer Women's Premier Soccer League
Utah Starzz (FKA Utah Spiders) 1999 Soccer Women's Premier Soccer League
BYU Cougars (Not playing on college level) 2003 Soccer USL Premier Development League
Ogden Outlaws 2006 Soccer USL Premier Development League
Ogden Raptors (FKA Salt Lake Trappers) 1994 Baseball Pioneer League
Orem Owlz (FKA Provo Angels) 2005 Baseball Pioneer League
Salt Lake Bees (FKA Salt Lake Buzz & Salt Lake Stingers) 2006 Baseball Pacific Coast League
Utah Grizzlies 2005 Ice hockey ECHL
Utah Blaze 2006 Indoor Football American Indoor Football Association / Arena Football League
Utah Argonauts 2012 Football Professional Developmental Football League in 2013; team seeking funding for entrance into the NSFL in 2014
Utah Blitz 2010 Football Women's Football Alliance
Salt Lake Lions 2014 Ultimate American Ultimate Disc League

Historical teams[edit]

Utah professional sports teams (historical)
Club Year introduced Sport League
Lagoon 1901 Baseball Inter-Mountain League
Ogden 1901 Baseball Inter-Mountain League
Park City 1901 Baseball Inter-Mountain League
Salt Lake City 1901 Baseball Inter-Mountain League
Salt Lake City Elders 1903 Baseball Pacific National League
Salt Lake City Mormons 1909 Baseball Inter-Mountain League
Salt Lake City Skyscrapers 1911 Baseball Union Association
Ogden Canners 1912 Baseball Union Association
Murray Infants 1914 Baseball Union Association
Salt Lake Bees (Three previous franchises) 1915, 1946, 1958 Baseball Utah-Idaho League / Pacific Coast League / Pioneer League
Logan Collegians 1926 Baseball Utah-Idaho League
Ogden Gunners 1926 Baseball Utah-Idaho League
Ogden Reds 1939 Baseball Pioneer League
Ogden Dodgers 1966 Baseball Pioneer League
Salt Lake City Giants 1967 Baseball Pioneer League
Salt Lake Golden Eagles 1969 Ice Hockey WHL / CHL / IHL
Utah Grizzlies (1995-2005) 1995 Ice Hockey IHL / AHL
Utah Stars 1970 Basketball American Basketball Association
Salt Lake City Angels 1971 Baseball Pacific Coast League
Ogden Spikers 1974 Baseball Pioneer League
Salt Lake City Gulls 1975 Baseball Pacific Coast League
Utah Golden Spikers (FKA Utah Pioneers) 1976 Soccer American Soccer League
Utah Rockies 1976 Basketball American Basketball Association
Salt Lake City Prospectors 1978 Basketball Western Basketball Association
Ogden A's 1979 Baseball Pacific Coast League
Salt Lake City Stingers 1979 Volleyball International Volleyball Association
Salt Lake City Trappers 1985 Baseball Pioneer League
Salt Lake Sting 1990 Soccer American Professional Soccer League
Utah Pioneers 1992 Football Professional Spring Football League
Utah Rollerbees 1993 Inline hockey Roller Hockey International
Salt Lake Buzz 1994 Baseball Pacific Coast League
Utah Predators 1994 Volleyball Women's Western Volleyball League
Utah Starzz 1997 Basketball Women's National Basketball Association
Utah Catzz 1997 Indoor football Professional Indoor Football League
St. George Pioneerzz (FKA Zion Pioneerzz) 1999 Baseball Western Baseball League
Utah Freezz 1999 Indoor soccer World Indoor Soccer League
Utah Blitzz 1999 Soccer USL Second Division
Provo Angels 2001 Baseball Pioneer League
Utah Rattlers 2001 Indoor football National Indoor Football League
Salt Lake Stingers 2002 Baseball Pacific Coast League
Utah Salt Ratz 2003 Soccer National Premier Soccer League
Utah Warriors 2003 Indoor football National Indoor Football League
Utah Snowbears 2004 Basketball American Basketball Association (new)
Salt Lake Dream 2006 Basketball American Basketball Association (new)
Utah Eagles 2006 Basketball Continental Basketball Association
Rush Salt Lake City 2007 Soccer Women's Premier Soccer League
St. George RoadRunners 2007 Baseball Golden Baseball League
Utah Flash 2007 Basketball NBA Development League
Salt Lake City Saints 2008 Basketball American Basketball Association (new)
Utah Saints 2008 Indoor football American Indoor Football Association
Ogden Knights 2009 Indoor football American Indoor Football Association
Utah Warriors Rugby 2010 Rugby union Rugby Super League

The use of the letter "Z"[edit]

The professionals sports team nicknames are often noted for the unusual frequency of the letter Z appearing in team nicknames (such as the Utah Jazz). This phenomenon reached the peak of its popularity during the 1990s; however, several Utah teams continue to make use of the letter Z. At least ten Utah-based professional sports franchises have used team names that include the letter Z, some of which are intentionally spelled incorrectly, using the Z unnecessarily or as a replacement for another letter. Commenting on the proliferation of such team names, New York Times sportswriter Alan Schwarz called Utah "the state where sports fans go to get their Z's."[1]

Early Utah -zz teams[edit]

The popularity of the Z in Utah sports was likely inspired in part by the unusual nickname of the Utah Jazz NBA team, which in 1979 relocated from New Orleans — which is noted for Jazz — to Salt Lake City, which is not. Up until the early 1990s, Utah's other professional teams used somewhat conventional nicknames (such as the Stars, Golden Eagles, and Trappers).

With the arrival of the Salt Lake Buzz in 1994, the similarity of the nicknames "Buzz" and "Jazz" was unmistakable (although the name "Buzz" was really a play on the name of owner Joe Buzas, as well as a nod to Utah's "Beehive State" moniker).[2][3] The following year, the Utah Grizzlies minor league hockey team also entered the market.

Utah becomes a -zz market[edit]

Hootz, the Orem Owlz mascot.

The announcement of the Utah Starzz WNBA franchise in 1996 cemented the state's propensity for using the letter Z in its team names. [4] The peculiar "Starzz" nickname was an homage to the Jazz (as well as to the old Utah Stars ABA team).[5] The precedent firmly set, several -zz teams entered the Utah market in subsequent years, to include the Utah Catzz, Utah Freezz, and Utah Blitzz.

From 1994 to 1999, at least seven professional sports teams in the state adopted nicknames containing a double Z (see table below). All of these team names ended in -zz, except the Utah Grizzlies (which are also commonly called "the Grizz").[6] With the exception of the Jazz and Grizzlies, none of the -zz teams remain in Utah today, each having relocated, folded, or renamed the franchise.

The Ogden Raptors (1994–present) were the only notable Utah pro franchise to forgo use of the letter Z when entering the Utah market during the 1990s. The Raptors offered this as a selling point, using the slogan "All the fun without the ZZs!"[7] Since 2000, new and renamed franchises have tended to steer away from the Z naming fad, opting instead for names such as Salt Lake Bees, Utah Flash and Real Salt Lake. However, the creation of the Orem Owlz in 2005 and the Utah Blaze in 2006 provide some indication that Utah's Z nicknaming trend continues.

Selected Utah Professional sports teams
-ZZ teams
Team Name Sport (League) Nickname still in use Years used
Utah Jazz Basketball (NBA) Yes 1979–present
Salt Lake Buzz Baseball (PCL) No - Renamed 1994–2001
Utah Grizzlies Hockey (IHL/AHL/ECHL) Yes 1995–present (two franchises)
Utah Starzz Basketball (WNBA) No - Relocated 1997–2002
Utah Catzz Indoor football (PIFL) No - Folded 1997–1998
Utah Freezz Indoor soccer (WISL) No - Folded 1999–2001
Utah Blitzz Soccer (USL-2) No - Folded 1999–2004
St. George Pioneerzz Baseball (WBL) No - Folded 1999–2001
Other Z teams
Orem Owlz Baseball (Pioneer League) Yes 2005–present
Utah Blaze Arena football (AFL I and AFL II Yes 2006–present
Notable non-Z teams introduced since 1990
Ogden Raptors Baseball (Pioneer League) Yes 1994–present
Utah Rattlers Indoor football (NIFL) No - Folded 2001
Salt Lake Stingers/Bees Baseball (PCL) Yes 2002–present
Utah Warriors Indoor football (NIFL) No - Folded 2003–2004
Real Salt Lake Soccer (MLS) Yes 2004–present
Utah Snowbears Basketball (new ABA) No - Folded 2004–2005
Utah Eagles Basketball (CBA) No - Folded 2006–2007
St. George RoadRunners Baseball (GBL) No - Relocated 2006–2010
Utah Flash Basketball (NBA D-League) Yes 2007–present
Utah Saints Indoor football (AIFA) No - Folded 2008 - 2008

Notes:

  • Ogden Raptors previously played as Salt Lake City Trappers from 1985 to 1992.
  • Orem Owlz previously played as Provo Angels from 2001–2004, taking its name from the parent Anaheim Angels franchise.
  • The Salt Lake Buzz, Stingers, and Bees are various names for the same Pacific Coast League team.

References[edit]

  1. ^ Schwarz, Alan. "Go, Banana Slugs! Beat The Burn!", New York Times, 19 July 1998.
  2. ^ Lange, Scott. "Mascot lawsuits drain Buzz Fund", Georgia Tech Technique, accessed 12 May 2008.
  3. ^ Dicou, Natalie. "Salt Lake Buzz…er, Stingers…er, I forget", Utah Daily Chronicle, 24 May 2006, retrieved 18 May 2008.
  4. ^ For example, see: Jorgensen, Loren. "Utah's WNBA Team Dubbed the 'Starzz'", Deseret News, 29 January 1997, pg D1 (accessible at Deseret News archives.
  5. ^ Hollis, Randy. "Starzz starting to shine bright as Jazz fade into history", Ogden Standard-Examiner, 2 June 2002 (republished by realgm.com).
  6. ^ For example, see: Hamilton, Linda. "Grizz Excited To See Wirll Skate", Deseret News (hosted by Utah Grizzlies), accessed 12 May 2008.
  7. ^ Wadsworth, Reuben. "I'm gonna miss the ZZZs and the Buzz," The Utah Statesman, 2 February 2001, retrieved 19 May 2008. See also archived Ogden Raptors website.