This archived news story is available only for your personal, non-commercial use. Information in the story may be outdated or superseded by additional information. Reading or replaying the story in its archived form does not constitute a republication of the story.
SANDY — Real Salt Lake and Herriman Mayor Carmen Freeman unveiled plans to build a $50 million soccer training complex, the Major League Soccer club announced on Saturday.
“As an organization, we believe that building this gathering place from ground up, developing local talent, and training that talent to an elite level, will lead to stronger connection and ultimate success,” said RSL owner Dell Loy Hansen in a news release. “The goal has been to create a program for youth training and academy training that is equal to anything that you could find in Europe at the elite soccer academies: Ajax, Barcelona, England. So we've looked at them very closely.”
RSL and the city of Herriman plan to break ground on the 42-acre plot later this month.
The training complex will include eight fields, one for Herriman city public use, and a total of seven regulation-size soccer fields. Four of the fields will be natural grass and outdoor, with the remaining three fields utilizing artificial surface. Two of the artificial fields will be housed in a 208,000-square-foot structure, the largest pre-engineered free span building in North America.
The complex will house daily training activities for RSL and the Real Monarchs, as well as extensions of the club’s Arizona-based U-18 and U-16 USSFDA Academy setups, according to an RSL press release. Potential future additions include an RSL women’s professional team and other youth development age groups.
“This defines professionalization of soccer in America,” said Craig Waibel, Real Salt Lake general manager. “This is commitment from an owner to build an organization — not build a building, not build a field and call it an organization — this is commitment beyond what we’ve seen to this point. This is creating a definition for our organization that’s going to exist and identifying what defines us for years to come.”
The facility will employ 50 full-time staff members and 20 part-time staff, according to RSL.
“Every city looks for an iconic landmark that will identify it regionally and internationally,” Freeman said. “From a job creation standpoint, the stimulation of economic growth, with great benefits for our residents, to have such a unique opportunity of an incredibly inclusive nature is enormous.”
“Herriman, I have to say, really went out of their way to invite us to be there,” said Hansen.
“This complex will serve as the crown jewel of Herriman City, with our residents experiencing huge benefits on all fronts,” said Nicole Martin, a Herriman city councilor. “It is rare yet incredible that a successful entity such as RSL shares our city’s vision for creating a family-friendly, world-class destination, and now we become essentially a ‘soccer-topia’ to hone athletic and academic skills for decades to come.”
RSL’s Herriman Training Complex will also sit adjacent to a 250-student STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) charter school developed by Utah State University, with 77,000 square feet of classrooms and a 90-acre campus.
“This complex will serve as the crown jewel of Herriman City, with our residents experiencing huge benefits on all fronts.” — Nicole Martin, Herriman city councilor
“We have a passion for how our residents live, work and play, and this complex and the adjacent STEM school will provide amazing value for our residents,” said Herriman City Councilor Coralee Moser.
Hansen has also created the nonprofit “RSL Youth Academy Foundation,” which will create “regional training centers” across Utah and potentially Arizona. The first three locations are scheduled to be North Logan, Ogden and West Valley City, with Orem and St. George planned for later on.
“Our collective passion about building this community is at the core of everything we do, with my job being to guide the group and lead us in how we connect to the community of nearly 10 million people across Utah and Arizona,” said Hansen. “I’m Salt Lake, I’m Utah, this is what I care about, and this is what the RSL values reflect, the club rooted civically in the community with everyone invited as a point of unification.”
The facility is scheduled to open in July 2017.
Contributing: Ashton Goodell