Utah’s new major league soccer team, Real Salt Lake, will play its first league game in New York on Saturday. The team’s first home game will be two weeks later, on April 16 at Rice-Eccles Stadium. KSL hopes the very best for Real Salt Lake as the organization’s inaugural season gets underway.
As much as we’d like to see professional soccer succeed here, though, we remain skeptical of any plan that would require taxpayers to help foot the bill for a new soccer-specific stadium for the team. Governor Huntsman and the team’s owners spoke recently of developing a “new model” for public-private stadium funding. And Real Salt Lake executives have asked for “open minds” regarding funding until the organization actually presents its business plan.
For the time being, KSL is willing to wait and see what they come up with, realizing Real Salt Lake officials have a major selling job to do. Let the franchise prove its value through one season, and then another at Rice-Eccles Stadium. Let’s see if people actually buy tickets and attend the games. Demonstrate to the community that some form of public investment might, indeed, be justified. Only then, in KSL’s view, should serious consideration be given to what Real Salt Lake is after.