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Real Salt Lake: Fairpark, RSL inching toward minor-league stadium agreement
It's looking more and more likely that Salt Lake City will soon get a soccer stadium.
The Utah State Fairpark announced Tuesday that its chair and vice chair will seek approval from the Fairpark's board to begin negotiations with Real Salt Lake owner Dell Loy Hansen for an 8,000-seat stadium to be the home of RSL's minor league team starting in 2016.
Fairpark executive director Michael Steele said in order for proposal to move forward, the 14-member board must give a unanimous green light when Hansen presents his plan on Sept. 10 at the Fairpark.
Chair Roger Beattie and vice chair Lowell S. Peterson are seeking board approval to begin negotiations on the project.
"The chair and vice-chair wants everyone on the board to be arm-in-arm, step-in-step," Steele said. "If we're going to go down this road, we all have to be in this together. It's almost like a marriage."
Hansen has proposed to pay between $13 to $18 million to construct a soccer stadium for his team's USL Pro affiliate at the Fairpark, located a few blocks west of downtown Salt Lake City. Steele said Hansen is eyeing a 40-year lease for the facility.
Hansen told The Salt Lake Tribune last month that the minor league team would begin play next year at Rio Tinto Stadium in Sandy, and move to the new stadium in 2016, playing 14 matches per season.
The San Diego Union-Tribune reported in mid-March that Hansen proposed a training complex with six soccer fields and a soccer stadium to the Oceanside city council, a pitch which eventually fizzled.
The USL Pro league already features 14 franchises around the country and in 2015 will expand to include Austin, Colorado Springs, Louisville, St. Louis and Tulsa, in addition to a new Salt Lake City-based team.
Hansen said when he took sole ownership of the franchise in January 2013, establishing a minor-league team was a priority to sustain the parent club's success and create a pipeline of young players from the youth level at the club's Arizona-based academy and eventually to the USL team.
"What interests me is how this relates to our own community participating," Hansen said. "I'm in this because of what it does for our state. We've got great clubs, we've got a great base of kids that haven't had a clear path of how to develop and meet the dream. Soccer wasn't as clear of a path for a local [in year's past.]."