And Salt Lake City makes 12
and to achieve the financial stability that comes with them -- Checketts said he understands that building such a facility must be placed on the agenda immediately.
"We have to build a stadium and we will build a stadium because you cannot expect this team to have a permanent presence until we do," Checketts said. "We're going to invest significant private capital -- our own money -- in building a stadium"
Several communities have expressed interest in building a stadium, Checketts said, including downtown Salt Lake City and surrounding suburbs.
A more immediate concern for Checketts is building a team in time for the start of the 2005 season. With nine months remaining until the next MLS campaign kicks off, Checketts and his associates at Sports Capital Partners will have to build out their front office staff and player personnel, in addition to creating a name, logo and color scheme for the club.
The first order of business is the club's identity, which is expected to be announced in August. Shortly thereafter, a general manager will be selected, with a coach, Checketts said, being hired in September. The team's roster will be stocked in part through an expansion draft likely to be held in late November.
While pricing for tickets has yet to be determined, Checketts said he knows where his fan base will come from. Both Checketts and Garber noted the high soccer participation rate of the state of Utah, purportedly the highest in the country, and the club's desire to draw in youth soccer teams and families. They also mentioned the rising Hispanic population in the Salt Lake City area and the large number of Utah residents who spend time abroad and developed a love for soccer in the process.
The fact that the new soccer team will be just the second major sports team in Utah, along with the Jazz, will also give the club a boost, Checketts said.
"We're going to have to give them some reason to come. The first reason is it's major league," Checketts said. "This community is used to, 'Tonight, Helena. Tomorrow, Billings.' This is going to be New York, L.A., Dallas, Washington."
As far as Major League Soccer is concerned, the expansion process is by no means over. Mexican businessman Jorge Vergara, who owns CD Guadalajara (Chivas), is expected to announce the location of his "Chivas USA" club very soon, and the league is on course to add two more teams in 2006. One city that is considered a favorite is Seattle, which according to Garber just barely missed out on having a team in MLS in 2005.
"Seattle was very close," he said. "They are certainly at the top of the list."
Jason Halpin is a contributor to MLSnet.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Soccer or its clubs.