New co-owner thrills to role with RSL
Sandy » Dell Loy Hansen might have raised a few eyebrows when he misstated the name of the soccer team he's buying, twice calling it "Salt Lake Real" at a news conference Wednesday to announce his purchase of nearly half of Real Salt Lake.
But his enthusiasm could hardly be questioned.
With a voice still hoarse from cheering RSL during the landmark victory that propelled it into the MLS Cup championship game this weekend, the real-estate developer from Logan passionately described the "fairy tale story" he has lived since deciding eight weeks ago to become a local partner of majority owner Dave Checketts.
"Real will be a stronger, better, championship franchise -- I believe -- because Dave invited me in to help him," Hansen said.
That invitation came during a fund-raiser for Sandy mayor Tom Dolan that Checketts held, as part of a party to watch the U.S. national team play a qualifying game for the 2010 World Cup in South Africa. Seated with Checketts and Michael Eisner, the former CEO of The Walt Disney Company, Hansen said he listened to Checketts try to interest Eisner in buying a piece of the team.
"You really can't treat me like chopped liver," Hansen recalled thinking. "I'm sitting right by this conversation! So they lean over and say, 'Maybe you'd like a piece.' I says, 'Yeah, I think I would.' And over the next eight weeks, I was just a little quicker to the punch than Michael Eisner."
So Hansen wound up buying a 49 percent stake in the team, its stadium and the KALL-AM radio station for what is believed to be around $52 million -- previously reported figures that team officials did not dispute.
Checketts promised to keep the money within the company, using it to pay down a "substantial amount" of debt and make improvements to Rio Tinto Stadium, particularly its front entrance. He also hopes to find a plot within blocks of the stadium to build a practice field for the team.
Meanwhile, Hansen was basking in his new role, accepting a framed RSL jersey with his name on the back and happily noting that he has yet to see the team lose -- having started attending games only since RSL began the stunning four-game winning streak that has earned it a shot at the Los Angeles Galaxy in the MLS Cup final in Seattle on Sunday.
"You just couldn't have picked a more magical time," he said.