A New Day for Real Salt Lake as Dave Checketts moves on

RSL logo for blog

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.

So what will happen with Dell Loy in charge?  That is now the big question, we know that Dell Loy has a deep portfolio and deep pockets, so could we see a move to bring in a bigger name DP? Maybe, but I think that the philosophy of “The Team is the Star” will continue to live here, as will the, good players who are good people, method of filling our roster.  RSL has always been a family, the fans, the players, the staff, and the owners, I don’t see that changing in the future.

Dell Loy made the following statement about the change:

“Just over three years ago, I was very proud to join Dave Checketts in the world of Real Salt Lake and Major League Soccer,” said Mr. Hansen. “Today, the chance to further deepen my participation in the growth of professional soccer in North America is incredibly exciting. My enthusiasm for this sport started long ago with my family, and now I am proud that our investment now includes the entire Real Salt Lake family – starting with our incredible fan base – as we work together representing the great State of Utah.”

Many of us remember the question marks about Dell Loy when he first got involved with the team, a couple of gaffes with the name, and clearly someone who was new to soccer, but I think about how many fans were new to soccer when MLS came to town that now count themselves as loyal supporter of the sport and Real Salt Lake.  Clearly as a fan, as a season ticket holder, and as someone who writes about RSL, I will be keeping a very close eye on the decisions and any changes that happen.

Here is the full text of the RSL press release on the change in ownership, including quotes from MLS Comish Don Garber:



Local Partner Purchases Ownership Shares from Founder Dave Checketts in MLS Club, Rio Tinto Stadium and ESPN700 Sports Talk Radio


SANDY, UT – Thursday, January 24, 2013 – Real Salt Lake Founder Dave Checketts announced today that Utah entrepreneur and Real Estate developer Dell Loy Hansen has acquired complete ownership in the club’s Utah sports properties – Real Salt Lake of Major League Soccer (MLS), Rio Tinto Stadium and ESPN700 Sports Talk Radio. The transaction – also involving other minority partners – was recently approved by the Major League Soccer Board of Governors. Terms were not disclosed, by agreement of both parties.

Since joining the RSL ownership ranks in October, 2009, Mr. Hansen, has served as Vice Chairman and Alternate Governor for Real Salt Lake, working closely with Mr. Checketts, RSL President Bill Manning and the management team regarding the direction and strategy of each business unit, as well as the potential real estate development around Rio Tinto Stadium.

“Just over three years ago, I was very proud to join Dave Checketts in the world of Real Salt Lake and Major League Soccer,” said Mr. Hansen. “Today, the chance to further deepen my participation in the growth of professional soccer in North America is incredibly exciting. My enthusiasm for this sport started long ago with my family, and now I am proud that our investment now includes the entire Real Salt Lake family – starting with our incredible fan base – as we work together representing the great State of Utah.”

Mr. Hansen, President of Wasatch Property Management, Inc., is a lifelong Utah resident with deep roots in Cache Valley. His passion to build youth athletic facilities led to the creation of the Sports Academy in North Logan fourteen years ago. Many truly outstanding swimmers, soccer and tennis players have developed their skills at Sports Academy. Personal success is at the root of the Academy experience and reflects Mr. Hansen’s core values.

Under former Utah Governor Michael Leavitt, Hansen served nine years on the State’s Board of the Department of Business and Economic Development, two of those years as Chairman. During that time he came to appreciate the great business opportunities that exist in Utah.

Mr. Hansen founded Wasatch Property Management, Inc. in 1988 and has served as the company’s President since its inception, with corporate headquarters located in Logan, Utah. Wasatch currently employs approximately 600 employees, managing 52 multi-family residential communities with approximately 12,000 apartment units, 5 condominium developments, and 20 commercial buildings with 2.4 million of rental square footage throughout the western United States. Wasatch and its affiliated investor-owned entities maintain a real estate portfolio in excess of $1.2 Billion.

Mr. Hansen is also an owner in nearly a dozen venture companies, with approximately 900 employees located across Utah, Idaho and California. The companies range from a recycling and waste disposal company in Sacramento, California; several sports clubs throughout Utah and Idaho, a plastic injection & molding company, wood milling company and a golf course in Utah; and one of the largest utility management and billing companies in the United States. These companies reported Revenue of approximately $60 Million in 2008 with projected Revenues in excess of $64 Million in 2009.

“The last eight years have been a labor of love,” said Mr. Checketts, who formally brought Major League Soccer’s 12th team to Utah in July, 2004. “When we started I made a promise to build something of meaning; something that people in my home state of Utah could be proud of.

“Real Salt Lake has become much more than a soccer team, and Rio Tinto Stadium much more than a venue. Each has become integrally woven into the fabric of this community and become beloved assets to the people here. It is a legacy that I will forever take pride in, and I am happy to leave it in local hands. I know that Dell Loy will be a tremendous caretaker for the Team, the Stadium and all that both represent.”

During the eight years of Checketts’ leadership, Real Salt Lake built a club around the basic tenet that “The Team is the Star,” accomplishing numerous milestones as the foundation for world-class sportsand entertainment found a home on the Wasatch Front. Highlights include:

First MLS team with jersey-front sponsorship (Utah-based XanGo, Nov., 2006)

  • Opening of Rio Tinto Stadium in October, 2008
  • MLS Cup 2009, Utah’s first professional title in nearly 40 years
  • CONCACAF Champions League Final – furthest advancement for U.S. side (April 2011)
  • 95% capacity for RSL games in 2012; 11 out of 20 games were sellouts, including final
  • six consecutive regular-season matches
  • Longest active playoff streak in MLS (five years, 2008-2012)
  • Three consecutive seasons with 15 or more wins

“I would like to thank Dave Checketts for his many contributions to both RSL and the League and wish him well as he focuses his efforts on his role as Chairman/CEO of Legends,” MLS Commissioner Don Garber said. “Dave was the first new expansion owner to commit to the League in 2004 and he worked tirelessly to establish RSL as a legitimate and successful regional sports brand and to secure the funding for the construction of Rio Tinto Stadium. Dave was new to the sport when he acquired the expansion team for Salt Lake City. And as anyone who attended a game with Dave knows, the entire Checketts family has grown to be enormously passionate about the sport, MLS and RSL.

“I would also like to thank Dell Loy for his passionate support for the Club since first becoming part of the ownership group in 2009 and look forward to working with him in his new capacity as the sole owner of RSL. Based on the commitment he has already shown, I know that Real Salt Lake is in great hands.”

I am sure I will have more thoughts on this as the days go along, but never lose faith RSL faithful.

That’s How I See It

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

* Copy This Password *

* Type Or Paste Password Here *