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REAL Salt Lake: New Soccer Stadium Could Save the State Fair

Taylor Hayes

The Utah State Fair Board of Directors met this afternoon with Real Salt Lake owner Dell Loy Hansen to consider his proposal to build a new minor-league soccer stadium at the Fairpark.  Hansen says the plan could save the fair, which is struggling financially.

Dell Loy Hansen has agreed to pay for the new stadium, which is estimated to cost between $13 million to $18 million dollars.  The 8 to 10,000-seat, venue would be located on the north end of the Fairpark, at 155 north and 1000 west. It would house the minor league REAL Monarchs, the REAL pro women’s soccer team, amateur men’s leagues and other programs. Hansen says RSL needs a way to develop talent to compete with other major league teams.

“All major league soccer teams are affiliating or owning a developmental league team,” Hansen says. “This will be ours. We had thought of putting it in California. We’ve been approached from Arizona, California other parts of Utah, but this is the right place.”

But before the project can get underway, the state legislature must extend the fair board’s property lease.  Hansen says he’s spoken only to the fair board about the project and has chosen not to lobby state lawmakers.

“We’ve laid out what we can do,” Hansen says. “We think alert politicians will see the opportunity.”

The fair board has unanimously agreed to continue negotiations with RSL. Board Chair Roger Beattie says it’s an exciting time for soccer fans in Utah but more planning needs to be done.

“Getting very, very excited is a lot like running in the dark. It’s a lot of fun until you hit a tree,” Beattie says. “So there is a lot of work that has to be done behind the scenes right now, a lot of analysis. But at this juncture, everybody is very excited to proceed and hoping that everything will work out well.”

Beattie says the board is hoping to come to a decision by December.

If the project moves forward, REAL Monarchs could start their first season in March at Rio Tinto Stadium in Sandy. Hansen hopes they’ll play their second season at the State Fairpark. 

Whittney Evans grew up southern Ohio and has worked in public radio since 2005. She has a communications degree from Morehead State University in Morehead, Kentucky, where she learned the ropes of reporting, producing and hosting. Whittney moved to Utah in 2009 where she became a reporter, producer and morning host at KCPW. Her reporting ranges from the hyper-local issues affecting Salt Lake City residents, to state-wide issues of national interest. Outside of work, she enjoys playing the guitar and getting to know the breathtaking landscape of the Mountain West.
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