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Chris Kamrani
Chris Kamrani covers Real Salt Lake for the Tribune.

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Discussion of potential RSL academy in SoCal ends

Sandy • The proposal to perhaps build another Real Salt Lake soccer academy in Oceanside, Calif., reportedly fell apart Wednesday night when the Oceanside City Council ended negotiations with RSL owner Dell Loy Hansen, according to The San Diego Union-Tribune.

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A day after writing that Hansen, who owns a home in the area, was interested in perhaps purchasing land east of the Interstate 5 in Oceanside where a city-run golf course currently sits, the Union-Tribune reported that the council members instead decided to revisit a proposal to save the 76-acre golf course known as Goat Hill. The presentation made by Hansen was to feature the building of a soccer academy on the land and reduce the golf course size for a 5,000-seat stadium home to a minor league professional soccer team, the report said.

Hansen reportedly told the Oceanside City Council that the club intended to invest more than $10 million over the next three years, including a $2 million investment to improve the golf course.

A potential "soccer mecca," as Hansen described it, was something he wanted to create that would be "progressive and good for the community."

Asked to comment on approaching the idea of an academy and potential minor league team in Oceanside, RSL general manager Garth Lagerwey said the club continues to explore its options of owning a USL minor league team to help further youth and professional development.

"I do think our preference is to operate our own USL team," Lagerwey told the Tribune Thursday. "I think the timeline for that is 2016, but you have to have a stadium, you have to have a city, you have to have an expansion agreement with USL, so we’ve been working on it and certainly, Oceanside/San Diego is one of the areas we’ve looked at, but we’re so far from a finished product there that I think we need to remind everybody that it’s fun to talk about San Diego — and it would be an interesting choice — it’s not the only choice."

Lagerwey threw out the possibility of housing a minor league team in Utah, mentioning possible destinations such as Salt Lake City, Provo, Ogden or Logan and even spoke about the North Salt Lake soccer fields. The $22.8 million project that includes 16 soccer fields and a small stadium, was given $7.5 million in funds by RSL, a deal tied to allowing the franchise to build Rio Tinto Stadium in Sandy.

"That’s a new facility that’s opening, there will be a small stadium field there. Could that be something? We just don’t know," Lagerwey said. "We’re looking at our options right now. I know as general manager of the team, I’m excited about the fact that our ownership is willing to invest these resources in potentially trying to found a minor league team, because it would sit above the academy."

The RSL GM went on to make the comparison of the academy to potentially a minor league team and eventually to the first team to the structure of professional baseball.

"You’d have a pipeline," Lagerwey said. "When you explain something like that? It’s the same system."

Lagerwey also praised Hansen’s proactive approach to furthering the club’s brand and player development, which was shown in Hansen’s pitch in Oceanside.

"Our owner is as good of an expert — that I’m aware of — in the Western United States, maybe the entire country on commercial real estate development," Lagerwey said. "I absolutely trust in Dell Loy to go down these paths and really help us out. He deserves really a tremendous amount of credit for how much work he has been doing already and for this process. I really am grateful for that.

"Without real ownership vision and support from Dell Loy, this isn’t happening. It’s not even getting off the ground, so I think it’s important to acknowledge his contribution."

-Chris Kamrani

Twitter: @chriskamrani



Copyright 2014 The Salt Lake Tribune. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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