Real Salt Lake unveils plans for huge academy development in Herriman City

With MLS teams starting to see strong results from academy investments, several are beginning to further develop not only their developmental efforts, but also relationships with the local communities – on-field and off.

Real Salt Lake is the latest franchise to undertake such an expansion. Before Saturday's game against the Colorado Rapids at Rio Tinto Stadium, RSL owner Dell Loy Hansen joined Herriman City Mayor Carmen Freeman to unveil plans for a $50 million soccer Training Complex, including a STEM school.

“Our collective passion about building this community is at the core of everything we do, with my job being to guide the group and lead us in how we connect to the community of nearly 10 million people across Utah and Arizona,” Hansen said. “I’m Salt Lake, I’m Utah, this is what I care about, and this is what the RSL values reflect, the club rooted civically in the community with everyone invited as a point of unification.”

Real Salt Lake unveils plans for huge academy development in Herriman City - Herriman Complex

The team plans to break ground on the 42-acre facility, which would house house the daily training activities for Major League Soccer’s Real Salt Lake, the United Soccer League’s Real Monarchs, as well as extensions of the club’s Arizona-based U-18 and U-16 USSFDA Academy setups, at the end of this month.

It would open in August 2017, for that year’s Academy classes, and be fully operational in advance of the 2018 MLS / USL campaigns. It includes eight fields, with one for Herriman City public use; four will be outdoor natural grass, three will be artificial surface – two of the latter would be housed in a 208,000 sq ft structure, the largest pre-engineered freespan building in North America.

“This defines professionalization of soccer in America,” said Craig Waibel, Real Salt Lake General Manager. “This is commitment from an owner to build an organization – not build a building, not build a field and call it an organization – this is commitment beyond what we’ve seen to this point. This is creating a definition for our organization that’s going to exist and identifying what defines us for years to come.”

The Herriman Training Complex will also sit adjacent to a 250-student STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) charter school developed by Utah State University. It will host approximately 50 students from out of state, with these students boarded on-site in a satellite structure. Facilities would house visiting Real Monarchs’ opponents and visiting academy teams, with potential future additions to the overall project including an RSL Women’s Professional Team, and other youth development age groups.

“Every city looks for an iconic landmark that will identify it regionally and internationally,” said Herriman City Mayor Carmen Freeman. “From a job creation standpoint, the stimulation of economic growth, with great benefits for our residents, to have such a unique opportunity of an incredibly inclusive nature is enormous.  Herriman City offers something unique of its own, a wonderful location consistent with our belief in providing an iconic setting for a world-class venue in this sector of the valley.”