Real Salt Lake owner David W. Checketts announced Wednesday his intent to build a new multi-purpose sports and entertainment center in the town of Sandy, Utah, meaning the club will have its own stadium by 2007. RSL's new 25,000-seat home will also play host to other community endeavors, including college and high school sports and concerts.
Checketts said that deciding on the location of the stadium was the hardest decision he's ever made, and that he's "agonized" over it for weeks.
"This was undoubtedly an extremely difficult decision," said Checketts. "Both Sandy and Salt Lake City offer excellent opportunities, physically just 15 minutes apart. However, Sandy provides a central location along the Wasatch Front with potential to attract new fans to soccer."
The location for the structure will be a 22-acre area adjacent to the South Towne Expo Center in Sandy. Negotiations between groups in the municipalities of Salt Lake City, Sandy and Murray have been carrying on for months but it was Sandy that was the best fit for the team both financial and the available acreage.
The land acquired by RSL under contract will be enough for not only the stadium, but also practice facilities for the team and community fields for the area's youth.
"The biggest reason we're in Sandy," said Checketts, "is this 22 acres offered us a blank canvas to build not only a beautiful stadium, but community fields where kids can play and kids can grow up playing in the shadow of the stadium aspiring to one day play there."
Utah Gov. Jon M. Huntsman Jr., who has been a very public fan of the team during the season, sees Checketts as a visionary whose ideas improve his surroundings.
"It's the Dave Checketts of the world that embrace an idea and improve a community," said Huntsman.
Other local political leaders were also excited about the new structure being built in the center of the Salt Lake Valley.
"Soccer has a permanent home in Utah," said Utah state Senate President John Valentine.
Architectural renderings were presented at the announcement held on the north lawn of the South Towne Expo Center. RSL marketing and communications director Trey Fitz-Gerald was quick to point out that the drawings are still very conceptual, and that the specifics are still evolving.
Checketts mentioned that the area will be surrounded by many structures but there will also be room for an area used as a gathering spot in front of the stadium.
"Soccer is the great unifier," said Checketts. "So we want people to be able to come here pre-game and spend some time."
With the location now finalized Real Salt Lake can begin to hammer out the specifics such as cost and exactly where everything in the complex will be placed.
"Now that we have chosen a location, we will immediately get to work determining the exact location-specific and infrastructure-related costs of the project and the details of the public-private partnership," said RSL chief executive Dean Howes. "Our goal is to forge a partnership that creates no new burden on the Utah taxpayer and lets us break ground in the spring of 2006."
RSL striker Jason Kreis knows a thing or two about seeing the process of stadium building come to fruition. Before coming to Salt Lake, Kreis spent his career in Dallas where that club just finished a stadium of their own in Frisco, Texas.
"I was in Dallas a few years ago when they brought out those drawings and it makes your heart skip a beat because you can't wait to get in there," said Kreis. "For me, it just can't come fast enough."
Scott McAllister is a contributor to MLSnet.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Soccer or its clubs.