SANDY, UT - The decision is made. Now the real work begins. With the snow-capped Wasatch Mountains in the background, Real Salt Lake Owner David W. Checketts today announced his intent to build a new multi-purpose sports and entertainment center in Sandy, Utah, which lies in the heart of Salt Lake County. The facility will be the permanent home of Major League Soccer in Utah, as well as playing host to a myriad of community endeavors, including college and high school sports, concerts, and other events.
"This was undoubtedly an extremely difficult decision," said Checketts, joined by a host of Utah luminaries. "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, while the combination of an unparalleled scenic backdrop and a world-class facility will enhance Utah's reputation as an international sporting destination."
The Real Salt Lake Stadium project is currently planned to sit on approximately 20 acres of land located to the northwest of the corner of 9400 South and State Street. RSL has the land under contract and plans to close on the property later this month.
"I can't say enough about the visionary efforts of numerous state and local leaders, whose convergence of efforts were driving forces in this process," continued Checketts. "Our Governor, Jon M. Huntsman, Jr., has coined the term 'coalition of the willing' to describe a group which includes Sandy Mayor Tom Dolan, House Speaker Greg Curtis, Senate President John Valentine, State Senator Curtis Bramble and County Mayor Peter Corroon, each of whom have expended great energy to provide a home for Real Salt Lake and create a project that will be of enormous value to our state, our team, and the community-at-large."
"We have taken the first step towards fulfilling our vision and contribution for community redevelopment," continued Checketts. "In a very short time, we will have kids playing soccer on fields in the shadow of this stadium, surrounded by a vibrant marketplace."
Although much work remains to flush out the details of the development, Checketts revealed conceptual architectural drawings depicting the new stadium. The drawings were prepared by the firm of Gino Rossetti, an accomplished architect who has designed several world-class sports facilities, including The Home Depot Center in Carson, Calif., home of the Los Angeles Galaxy and CD Chivas USA. Please visit www.RealSaltLake.com to view various concepts for the Real Salt Lake stadium.
"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 Dean Howes, Real Salt Lake's Chief Executive. "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 on a world-class facility that will bring national and international exposure to our state."
Today's Real Salt Lake announcement comes on the eve of Major League Soccer's 10th Season Playoffs, which commence on Saturday, October 22. MLS Cup 2005, the League's Championship Game, will be played on Sunday, November 13 at the recently-opened Pizza Hut Park in Frisco, Texas, a suburb of Dallas. Pizza Hut Park was the third MLS-specific stadium to open, following in the footsteps of Columbus Crew Stadium and The Home Depot Center.
Pizza Hut Park utilized a public-private financing structure, with the City of Frisco, Collin County and the Frisco Independent School District contributing nearly 80% of the funding for the project. The Chicago Fire will open its suburban stadium in Bridgeview, Ill., next spring, while the Colorado Rapids recently broke ground on their Commerce City stadium, expected to open in April of 2007. The MetroStars and D.C. United also have stadium development opportunities at various stages.
"Soccer fans have enthusiastically welcomed Major League Soccer to Utah," said Mark Abbott, Major League Soccer's Chief Operating Officer. "But just as importantly, Utah's elected leaders have rallied to prove that Utah is a truly world-class state that values world-class sports venues. Building this stadium in Sandy will have lasting value for Major League Soccer, its players, the local community and the image of the state."
RSL currently ranks second overall among Major League Soccer's 12 teams in terms of attendance, drawing 274,773 fans through 15 games during its inaugural season, including more than 40,000 for the June 4 World Cup Qualifying doubleheader. RSL is averaging 18,318 fans per game, trailing only the Los Angeles Galaxy (24,017) and ahead of the Chicago Fire (17,238) and CD Chivas USA (17,059).
"The outpouring of support from fans across the area for Real Salt Lake been nothing short of phenomenal," said RSL General Manager Steve Pastorino. "Their commitment to us helps explain why the stadium question has always been when and where it will be built, not if. Now that we know the where, we can move forward to deliver to our fans a truly world-class experience."
Sandy is the fourth-largest city in Utah, with more than 90,000 residents. The gateway to world-class skiing at resorts such as Brighton, Alta and Snowbird, Sandy features a median household income of more than $72,000 and boasts that 94% of its adults have completed high school.