Introducing Utah's team: Real Salt Lake
Real Salt Lake -- was revealed and the club's owner, David Checketts, hinted at a relationship with a similarly named club: Spain's Real Madrid.
The team's name, logo and colors were unveiled through a hail of confetti as Checketts described what he and the rest of the organization hope to represent.
"As we think about what we want our organization to stand for, we have developed several themes," Checketts said. "We want it to be world-class. We want it to make Salt Lake even more of an international city. We want it to be passionate and visionary. We want it to be a great unifier to bring people in Salt Lake City together. We have regal aspirations."
Thus, Real Salt Lake was born. Real means "royal" in Spanish and is used by many clubs throughout the world, particularly in Spain, to signify a direct connection with royalty. For example, Real Madrid, originally named Madrid Club de Futbol, earned its royal designation when King Alfonso XIII of Spain granted the club the title.
Not only do Checketts and the rest of Real Salt Lake hope their name will bring the same sense of honor and excellence that has been associated with Real Madrid, one of the most well-known and successful clubs in the world. They also hope to create a strong relationship with the Spanish giants.
While Checketts did not delve into the details of what RSL's relationship with Real Madrid will be, he said the Spanish club is "going to be important in the future of Real Salt Lake."
To help combine the theme of royalty with local and soccer-specific symbolism, the club incorporated Real Gold into its color scheme, which also features Claret Red -- meant to signify the passion of the local fans -- and Cobalt Blue -- intended to represent the surrounding mountains and lakes. The team Saturday also unveiled its shield, which features the Real word mark atop the RSL ligature, with a crown above the "e" in Real.
Local and state officials hailed the naming of the club, with Utah governor Olene Walker leading the way in offering praise for her state's second major professional sports franchise. Walker joked about forming a "grandmas-for-soccer" organization, and encouraged the people of Salt Lake City to support the team.
"You know, this isn't country league, it isn't little league ... It is absolutely Major League Soccer. To have a pro soccer team in Utah -- Salt Lake -- is about as good as it gets," Walker said. "We'll have economic development. We'll have people coming ... I can tell you, I'm going to be in the stands. I hope you'll join me there."
Saturday's event was also a chance for soccer fans in Utah to get to know their club a little better, as the team offered season-ticket holders a chance to select their seat at Rice-Eccles Stadium, where the club will begin play in April 2005.
The club also introduced for the first time in person general manager Steve Pastorino and head coach John Ellinger. Both Pastorino and Ellinger re-emphasized their lofty expectations for the 2005 season -- to win MLS Cup and the U.S. Open Cup, though chief executive Dean Howes said there is still a lot of work to do.
"Salt Lake City has qualified itself as a great city for MLS soccer," Howes said. "This is just the start."
Jason Halpin is a contributor to MLSnet.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Soccer or its clubs.