Checketts sells majority stake in RSL

BY DARRELL LOVELL

The torch of running Real Salt Lake has officially been passed on, as the club announced Thursday that Dave Checketts has sold his majority stake in the club to Dell Loy Hansen, who assumes sole ownership.

Checketts was the driving force behind bringing Major League Soccer to Utah in 2004. As principal owner, Checketts outlined a vision for a club that could thrive in Salt Lake City, MLS’ smallest market, by building a franchise that would embrace the community and place value on a family atmosphere.

Eight years later, Checketts exits with the sense that he has, with the help of his staff, accomplished his goals and more.

“We created something from nothing. There was no RSL; there was no shield; we created something from nothing,” Checketts said in a Thursday press conference. “It’s hard to realize when you’re building something exactly what is taking place, but as we’ve now gone through the years and reflected on these past eight years I believe we’ve achieved something really great.

“What we’ve created is something that we’ve set out to create. It’s a wonderful asset for the people of Utah, a place where they can come and be unified and watch the beautiful game.”

The list of accomplishments under Checketts is immense on both the business and soccer side of the organization.

In the boardroom, the club was the first in MLS to strike a jersey sponsorship deal with energy drink company XanGo, and pioneered the latest wave of soccer specific stadiums with the construction of Rio Tinto Stadium.

On the field, Checketts invested in Jason Kreis, to lead the way; giving the former player the means to build the type of team he felt would best achieve the club’s goals.

“We built a team and the team was the most driving force,” Checketts said. It was based on this concept that ‘The Team is the Star.’ So to [RSL Head Coach] Jason Kreis who created that concept.”

Kreis’ concept has led RSL to an MLS Cup in 2009 along with becoming the only MLS team to reach the finals of the CONCACAF Champions League in 2011.

As Checketts exits, Hansen, who acquired the club, stadium and radio outlet ESPN700 in the deal, steps in.

A three-year minority owner in the team, Hansen is a local businessman who shares Checketts passion for his “hometown” club. His immediate task is to continue the success found under the former ownership while driving RSL forward.

A trail blazed by the departing Checketts.

“This is a huge challenge and Dave is an impossible act to follow,” Hansen remarked. “While it’s been challenging to get us through this last three years, the ride has been worth it and I take the challenge to take the platform that has been so artfully put together by Dave. It’s humbling, but I’m going to try.”

Do you think the change in ownership will have an impact on RSL? Happy to see an MLS club stay in the hands of a local owner? Tell us what you think in the comments section below.

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26 Responses to Checketts sells majority stake in RSL

  1. meowmix says:

    Soooo, good time for a name change? How about the Salt Lake Shiskabobs

    • Old School says:

      On the list of MLS clubs that need a name RSL, for me, RSL ranks near the lowest in priority.

    • Camjam says:

      Yeah we fans here know it’s not the best name; but we’ve grown to like it and it made Utah’s rather large hispanic population feel comfortable with the club from the outset.

      • meowmix says:

        Ah, well that’s a cool point. I guess if you love your team, the name doesn’t matter so much in the end.

      • ed - houston says:

        the name has grown on me over the years, i still prefer the acronym RSL,it sounds better

      • Mingjai says:

        I’m an RSL fan and I’ve never liked the team name, but I don’t mind the RSL abbreviation and love the team’s design aesthetic.

        If they want to give a nod to the Hispanic population, I like Salt Lake Pumas as a better name.

      • JP says:

        I know that the MLS was encourage more “traditional” soccer team names, when they added Real Salt Lake (2004, Houston 1836, er, Houston Dynamo (2005), and FC Dallas (2005), but I always felt like Real Salt Lake worked on more than just the Hispanic, or “traditional” levels. I always thought (thought the team never said it), that “Real” which means Royal in Spanish was maybe a subtle reference to the “King of Kings” – Jesus Christ. I thought maybe ownership felt with the large religious population in Salt Lake, making a subtle reference to religion won’t hurt. Thoughts?

    • solles says:

      call them the salt lake city highlanders, as the fans wanted in 2005.

  2. el paso tx says:

    If I’m not wrong, last year I read that checketts was looking into selling Rsl, due to st.louis was looking into a basketball team and mls soccer team and checketts was part of the plan. In that same article, it was explained checketts had to sell Rsl inorder to get some of that st.louis basketball-soccer master plan and even the st.louis rams might relocate to LA which would benefit checketts. So hopefully checketts does something for st.louis soccer fans and at the same time rsl becomes a real soccer team besides their mls cup win. The new owner should remodel the stadium and change the team name to Real Utah, salt lake city fc or utah fc and also bring some dps for your fans. I think rsl could be the next portland, because maybe san jose or philly will be the next portland but I see rsl as the next portland.

    • RSLtoDie says:

      This comment doesn’t really make sense. The next Portland? What does that even mean? Portland hasn’t been any good since they joined the league, RSL is the only team to have been in playoffs the past 5 years. MLS Expansion has improved drastically since 2005, teams are set up to have success from the get go, whereas in 2005, it was very difficult to have a competitive team on the field.
      FYI the stadium doesn’t need any remodeling seeing that it is only 3 years old, Expansion if anything to support the sell-out streak that RSL has going right now.
      And the reason why RSL has had so much success over the years is that it doesn’t have that “Star” player. The team is the “Star”. Even though it does have a DP salary player in Saborio.

      • David JS says:

        +1, kind sir.

      • Beto says:

        +1 well put, for an rsl fan, everything from the ownership down has been pretty good for you guys for the first seven years. Best of luck in the future, and i hope that checketts does stay in the soccer industry; stl would be a great spot.

      • JimB says:

        Agree 100%. I’ve been to a few MLS venues around the league while traveling. Seattle, Vancouver, Portland, LAG, Chicago, and RSL. I thought the stadium, the play on the field and the atmosphere were great. Definitely not as rowdy as Seattle or Portland, but it was plenty passionate and the fans I interacted with were fantastic and extremely knowledgeable about the game. By half time I had purchased a jersey (Beckerman) and a scarf. I wish like hell an owner of Checketts’ passion and business acumen would embrace the Phoenix market. BTW, it was also a stroke of genius for RSL to establish a residency program down here in the PHX market.

    • patrick says:

      You don’t conside RSL a “real” soccer team? I suppose you don’t see the San Antonio Spurs as a “real” basketball team then, huh?

    • ConradB says:

      Lets be realistic here. Everyone knows only a team like Barcelona has the potential to be the next Portland…

    • Mensrea says:

      I think the fans’ view of the importance of dps is skewed. Tanks and healers are more important and harder to come by.

      I ain’t afraid of ya’ll.

      I’m not an RSL fan, but they are a model franchise and have done a great job. And that stadium is fantastic.

  3. MLSfan says:

    Thought the presser was to announce Joao Plata from Toronto FC had been traded…

  4. American says:

    I am an RSL fan and I like things the way they are with the club. I like the name, I like the stadium, and most importantly I like the team. I am wearing my Nick Rimando RSL goalie jersey at work right now.

    I met Dell Loy after my son’s U5 soccer game last fall as he was there watching his U6 grandkid play on the adjacent field. He actually goes and watches youth soccer all the time because he has a bunch of grandkids that play. He approached me because I was a coach wearing a RSL jersey and wanted to talk about the team. He was extremely nice. I had no idea who he was until the end of the conversation. I told him I would have bought RSL if I had the cash. Props to him.

    RSL!

  5. g-dub says:

    RSL is one of the top class franchises in MLS period. Hope they can keep it that way from a non-RSL fan. So true that they built a solid brand culture etc in an amazingly short period of time. I hope Mr Checketts stays in the US soccer sphere.

  6. Alex J says:

    I love that this picture seems to be from the first RSL game I went to. It was part of a double header with the USA versus Costa Rica world cup qualifying game (the only time I think they laid sod at Rice Eccles). Thank you to Checketts for bringing professional soccer to my area.

  7. Vinz Clortho says:

    Checketts is too busy with his Yankees/Cowboys gig, so I’m not surprised and actually encouraged. Still a huge thanks to him for making RSL happen. I love watching European soccer etc. but there is NOTHING like supporting a local club.

    The local radio station (KALLESPN 700) had a good interview with Dell Loy. Go download it if you like. He’s got good business sense and ambition. Excited for the future.