Utah's Major League Soccer (MLS) franchise is making plans to host a major league event in its new stadium next summer. Real Salt Lake (RSL) will host the MLS All-Star game in 2009. The team made that announcement here this afternoon.
They also took the opportunity to show off their new facility, which boasts two-week-old sod and, though it's a little tough to see through the smog today, world-class views of the mountains.
With each day, RSL's new stadium in Sandy gets closer to opening, and the team, which has endured controversy over the project, is ready to trumpet its completion.
Today, RSL announced that the MLS All-Star game is coming to town next summer.
Gov. Jon Huntsman said, "From a sport promotion standpoint, this is another step up in proving the point that we are in fact a world class destination."
It's a $110 million project, $65 million of that came from private funds. The rest is public money, including $35 million in county hotel taxes, which was what the controversy was mostly about.
The lawmaker who engineered the deal to put the stadium in his home town makes no apologies about being an advocate for soccer. Utah House Speaker Greg Curtis said, "I did this for the kids. I said sometimes you have to do something for the younger generation when they don't have a voice."
The stadium will host its first Real Salt Lake game in October and then the Major League Soccer All-Star game next summer.
Owner of Real Salt Lake Dave Checketts said, "It is a beautiful stadium. It's coming together very quickly, and we will have the best players from the world playing on this field around Pioneer Day next year 2009." Checketts hopes soccer powerhouse Real Madrid could be the opponent for that game.
Jason Kreis, Real Salt Lake's coach, said he's tempted to bring back his legendary goal celebration when the team moves to the new stadium for good. When asked if we would see some of the famous Jason Kreis back flips, Kreis replied, "You know, it could be the first time you see Jason Kreis in a suit, doing a back flip. We win our first game out there, and maybe I'll do that for everybody."
Construction crews are feverishly working on getting all the work done on the stadium.
Negotiations continue regarding naming rights for this stadium. A representative for the team says the 15-year deal may bring in roughly $2 million a year.