Real Salt Lake on a home search

Published April 29, 2005 1:14 am
Got space? The franchise has the natural surface already, but is looking for a permanent home
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Real Salt Lake is looking for a home. Or rather, it wants a home for its new field.

The team practices at the University of Utah's Rice-Eccles Stadium, where it also plays its home games.

But the field at Rice-Eccles is turf and when the team plays on the road, it's faces a problem: it doesn't have a grass field to practice on here.

"It's been a source of frustration for me that we haven't yet found a permanent practice field,'' general manager Steve Pastorino said.

Of the 12 MLS teams, 10 play on grass. Salt Lake and New York/New Jersey (the Meadowlands) are the only two teams that don't. The team initially thought it would have little trouble finding a grass practice field, but after searching from Orem to Centerville, it's come up empty.

The women's field at the University of Utah was the team's first choice, but the Utes' athletic department nixed the idea.

"It was our desire to play on that field all along," Pastorino said. "From Day One we felt the women's soccer field was one of the best surfaces in the state and one that made sense in every sense."

Instead, Real Salt Lake has bought a field. It will be placed on top of the turf at Rice-Eccles for the June 4 World Cup qualifier, when the U.S. national team plays Costa Rica. Real Salt Lake will play the second half of the day's doubleheader, against FC Dallas.

The team hopes to move the $100,000 grass field after the doubleheader, using it as a practice field before road games.

"We're laying it down and we've received assurance we'll be able to pick it up and put it wherever we want and have a world-class playing field," Pastorino said.

But Real Salt Lake hasn't found a spot to park the new field. If you want a field, they're willing to share.

"We're basically issuing a call," Pastorino said.

"A statement to the public. We're open to any ideas. Public school or private school. Any kind of institution or soccer association that may have a suitable location for this field. We're all ears."

There are a few stipulations.

The team wants to stay in the Salt Lake Valley area. Real Salt Lake would have access to the field in the mornings.

The team is open to high schools using it, but it doesn't want the field to be subject to overuse.

Finally, it would be helpful if there was a place for the team to shower and change, though Pastorino said Real Salt Lake would bring in trailers, if necessary.

"Any field that's this nice should be used for top-quality soccer matches,'' Pastorino said.

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