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I've been a fan of Real Salt Lake since it joined MLS and took to the field in 2005, and I've been a fan of MLS since it began in 1996. Lately however I've started to worry about the path MLS is taking and the poor decisions they are making that in my mind threaten the growth of soccer as a whole in the US. (see "Columbus conspiracy" section) Soccer in America will grow only when we have a vibrant and diverse minor league system, something that MLS seems to be smothering at the moment. (see "American soccer wars" section) Let's keep our eyes on the situation and hope for the best, a future where grass-roots soccer and the minor leagues can not only exist but flourish, as well as where the contributions and history of the league's early clubs are appreciated and preserved.

Thursday, March 5, 2015

Monarchs announce new stadium proposal in West Valley


(by Jasen Lee deseretnews.com 3-3-15)

One community’s loss is another one’s gain.

After being unable to hammer out an agreement to build a new soccer facility at the Utah State Fairpark, the Real Monarchs have announced a new stadium proposal.

Franchise owner Dell Loy Hansen told an audience at a news conference Tuesday that the team had signed a letter of intent to develop the project in West Valley City in the area near the Maverik Center.

“We picked the best opportunity,” Hansen said.

The deal came together rather quickly, he explained, as officials from West Valley City contacted Real Salt Lake to pitch a plan for development of the stadium.

Under terms of the proposed agreement, the Real Monarchs would lease land from the city for 40 years with two five-year extension options. The team would fully fund construction of the new 8,000-seat stadium at a cost of approximately $23 million, said Real Monarchs president Rob Zarkos.

“We plan on funding — with our own credit and our own cash — 100 percent of everything,” Hansen said.

The team has pledged not to use any municipal bonds for the project and likely not use any tax-exempt bonds either, he added.

“We’d like to be a gift to the city and don’t want to be an albatross,” Hansen said.

Last month, Hansen notified Utah State Fairpark administrators that the club had rescinded its January proposal for the stadium development at the fairgrounds.

Several weeks ago, Hansen had announced his intention to build an $18 million stadium at the Fairpark, with the facility to serve as the future home of the Real Monarchs.

In an effort to expedite the stadium's development, Hansen agreed to pay the entire cost of construction, contingent on the state extending the Fairpark's lease on the fairgrounds for an additional 40 years.

A Fairpark board member said the only major hurdle to construction of the new stadium was the extension of the lease. But tedious legislative wrangling prompted the team to pull out of the deal, saying development would not be able to begin in a suitable timeframe since the team hopes to begin construction on a facility this summer.

West Valley City was able to compose a plan to attract the Monarchs about 24 hours after learning of the team’s decision to rescind their initial proposal from the Fairpark, explained Nicole Cottle, assistant city manager and community and economic development director. Working through the night, officials were able to come up with a plan that was very suitable to the team and workable for the city, she said.

“By bringing this to our city and with the plans that Mr. Hansen has, we see this as an active, everyday sort of a facility,” Cottle explained. “We feel like this is a huge impact on our city from an (economic) perspective.”

Hansen said upon meeting with West Valley City planners, he was extremely impressed with their offer and decided to act immediately. As for the new project proposal, the two sides have 60 days to work out the final details of a long-term agreement.

After enduring long discussions with the state and Salt Lake City, Hansen said the new deal made the most sense. Even though it would be a bit more expensive, he said it was the best move to make for the long-term future of soccer in the area.

“We want to help Utah and to develop Utah soccer and have the youth here participate, and we’re looking for where we can do that best,” Hansen said.

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