Home » News

Real Salt Lake owner says Manchester United game part of an ‘absolute goal’ to bring world powers to Utah every year

First Published      Last Updated Jul 14 2017 08:52 pm

RSL » Owner wants to bring global soccer powers, such as Man U, to Utah every year.

He knows his players will be outmatched.

With all due respect to Kyle Beckerman and Nick Rimando, Manchester United's Paul Pogba, Juan Mata, and Marcus Rashford are household names in world football.

"We're punching way above our weight," Dell Loy Hansen acknowledges.

But if Real Salt Lake can't quite compare to a star-studded Manchester United team on the field Monday night, when the two clubs get together for an exhibition game at Rio Tinto Stadium, Hansen believes his soccer team is well suited to compete with other markets as he aims to entice other world soccer powers to visit Utah for these kinds of games in the future.

"Being in Utah, we're not New York, or Miami, or Seattle, or L.A.," Hansen said. "But we're in a great position."

A year ago, RSL hosted Italy's Inter Milan (a 2-1 victory for the visitors), and on Monday night Jose Mourinho's United club will take the field at Rio Tinto Stadium.

"We're developing relationships with clubs that are interested in building their worldwide brands," Hansen said.

And Hansen expects to bring another major team every year, so long as he remains the owner of the team.

"It's an absolute goal each year," he said.

As soon as RSL officials caught wind of the English club's tour plans last fall, they made contact in hopes of putting together a match.

"We have to be really attuned to when these teams are planning their tours," Hansen said.

Hansen said RSL officials had initially engaged in talks with another major English club.

"We could have cut a deal with Liverpool," he said. "We were fairly close. But we found we could marry our schedule with United's better."

United's tour includes stops in Los Angeles, Houston, Santa Clara, Calif., and Washington, D.C.

Salt Lake is a much smaller market than those cities, but Hansen believes Utah can still negotiate from a position of strength.

For clubs touring the U.S., Salt Lake can offer a stop between coasts in a market that has embraced soccer.

"You're rewarding a city that has welcomed soccer and been successful with it," said David Herman, who helps run Manchester United's supporters group in the U.S.

And when Real Salt Lake's training facility in Herriman is completed later this year, Hansen said he hopes to entice other clubs to use the facility as a home base between dates along West Coast tours. The Herriman facility will include a 4,000-square- foot facility for visiting teams, with access to five grass fields.

» Next page... Single page



Manchester United at Real Salt Lake

Monday, 8 p.m.


Real Salt Lake vs. the World

RSL played its first game against international competition in 2005. A year later it hosted Spanish power Real Madrid at Rice-Eccles Stadium, losing 2-0. Overall, the Utah club is 18-10-10 all time against clubs from other countries.