North Logan • Real Salt Lake owner Dell Loy Hansen called up his 11-year old grandson Cohen to cut the yellow ribbon stretched across the stage.
Cohen, dressed in his RSL Discover Program kit, walked under the ribbon and took the scissors from his beaming grandfather.
The ribbon-cutting ceremony celebrated the official opening of RSL’s first satellite youth academy training center in North Logan. The $6 million privately funded facility is one of eight regional centers, including the Zions Bank Real Academy in Herriman, that Hansen plans to open across Utah and Arizona.
“This is a tax-exempt foundation for youth training,” Hansen said of the RSL Youth Academy Foundation, “and our goal is to earn enough money that these kids don’t have to pay. So what we want to do is make sure everyone has equal opportunity. It’s your skill, not your money.”
Hansen aims to build the remaining six centers over the next four or five years. The Utah locations include St. George, Orem, the Taylorsville area, and Ogden. Hansen told The Salt Lake Tribune that he had selected sites for all but Taylorsville, where he has two potential sites. The Arizona locations are in the Phoenix and Tucson areas. The plans for each of the centers include an indoor field, outdoor field and classroom setting.
At North Logan, the regulation-size indoor field is housed in a brightly lit warehouse. The entrance includes floor-to ceiling windows bearing the RSL logo. That opens up to a lobby with various rooms and offices stemming from it. Claret and cobalt stripes run around the base of the building’s exterior. To fill the outdoor field requirement, the indoor facility was built next to Meadow View Park.
The regional facilities will serve as a home base for the RSL Discover Program, which is tasked with identifying and training RSL Academy prospects. The program has identified 700 players between the ages of 7 and 14 with potential, RSL Youth Academy Technical Director Will Rader said, and it plans to bring in about 25 per age group per region to train in the program. Players from Davis County and farther north will train at the North Logan Regional Training Facility once a week for about an hour and a half.
“We will focus on technical training, which is more of the individual skills, not so much about formations, lineups, the tactical part of it,” Rader said. “We don’t want to interfere with their club stuff at all. We just want to make sure that they’re better individually and that they’re getting the right environment.”
About 20 of the local players, including Cohen, came to the ribbon-cutting ceremony. Hansen called Cohen up to the stage to help explain why he’s investing in these regional training centers.
“One day he’s going to be better than Ronaldo,” Hansen said, adding that Cohen was selected to the Discovery Program on his own merits. “…When I think we have the chance to have one of my 34 grandchildren grow up and have superior training so that they excel, then I get really excited.”
In addition to the Discovery Program, Real Youth Academy President Jake Haueter said the RSL Youth Academy foundation will also identify, develop and help license elite coaches. The new indoor facilities will also give youth in the community more of an opportunity to train year round.
The foundation’s revenue will mostly come from rentals. This winter, per the RSL Soccer Centers website, quarter-field rentals cost $100 per hour, and half-field rentals are $150. Field time is cheaper in spring, summer and fall.
“It’ll take about [$300,000] to $350,000 a year of revenue to break even,” Hansen estimates. “And that’s all our goal is, is to break even.”