Real Salt Lake General Manager Garth Lagerwey says the crowds who pack into Rio Tinto stadium for home games are a microcosm of how Utah is changing. “Our fans represent the changing face of Utah,” says Lagerwey.
Lagerwey, who is a former MLS goalkeeper and broadcaster, also got his law degree from Georgetown after his playing days were done. He points to three factors that are driving change in the Beehive State.
“The Olympics, for sure, showed Salt Lake wanted to open itself to the rest of the world. But the California economic collapse in 2008 brought people here who wanted to work in a lower-regulation and lower-tax state that was tech friendly,” he says.
Lagerwey also points to the Sundance film festival.
“Most of these people who come here from Sundance have the same experience I did. I had been In Utah exactly one day prior to taking the job here. I had no idea what I was getting myself into. I got here and said, ‘Wow, it’s beautiful and people are really friendly.’ These things show Utah wants to be a part of everything else. We’re no longer an insular culture surrounded by three mountain ranges and a lake.”