There are few things that can set the internet into a frenzy like an email announcing a press conference with a Major Announcement, but Real Salt Lake sent that email early on Thursday, and soon the buzz was going on twitter and facebook as we all tried to figure out what might be going on.
Things got interesting when you considered the cast of people announced to be part of the press conference:
- Dave Checketts – Founder, Real Salt Lake
- Dell Loy Hansen – Owner, Real Salt Lake
- Don Garber – Commissioner, Major League Soccer
- Tom Dolan – Mayor, Sandy City
- Gary Herbert – Governor, State of Utah
What could involve all these parties, well as it turns out it was something that had been making the rounds for a couple months around the Utah business scene. Dave Checketts was selling his remaining stake in Real Salt Lake to Dell Loy Hansen, who bought part of the team a couple of years ago. Dell Loy bought into the team just before the MLS Cup in 2009 and has been a minority owner since then.
We have to be honest about a couple of things, first Salt Lake would not have a MLS team if it weren’t for the vision and leadership of Dave Checketts. Second, while the stadium fights that were an early part of the teams history were very real, Dave Checketts stayed the course when so many tried to put roadblocks in front of him. So while many people in Salt Lake have mixed feelings about him, I respect Dave Checketts for what he did in bringing Major League Soccer to Salt Lake City at a time when nobody was investing in MLS.
Many have been critical of him for choosing to name the team Real Salt Lake, but as those who know the story of how it was a NBA visit to Real Madrid that started his passion for soccer, it was no surprise. Dave brought Real Mardid to Salt Lake City and I believe if there hadn’t been major changes in that organization you would see that partnership still today. Dave was brave enough to be the first owner to put a sponsor on the front of his jersey, Dave pushed to build one of the best soccer stadiums in the United States, and Dave was the guy who took a risk on moving a young Jason Kreis from playing to coaching. I will always feel a debt to Dave Checketts as a fan of Real Salt Lake. Not to mention for him chasing down Pablo after one of the classic Rocky Mountain Cup matches at Rice Eccles.