Real Salt Lake Owner Dell Loy Hansen and Herriman City Mayor Carmen Freeman jointly unveiled plans to break ground in late April on a $50 million soccer Training Complex, including a STEM school, Saturday in a pre-game briefing at Rio Tinto Stadium.
“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 Hansen, who joined the club’s ownership ranks in late 2009 and assumed sole possession of the club in January, 2013. “‘AsOne’ is not just a motto – it is reflective of our purpose, as we provide whatever resources are necessary to field the best teams and people throughout our Academy to Monarchs to RSL and everything in-between.”
Located on a 42-acre plot in Herriman City, in the Southwest corner of the Salt Lake Metro Area, just 20 minutes west of Rio Tinto Stadium, the complex will house the daily training activities for Major League Soccer’s Real Salt Lake, the United Soccer League’s Real Monarchs, as well as extensions of the club’s Arizona-based U-18 and U-16 USSFDA Academy setups. Potential future additions include an RSL Women’s Professional Team, and other youth development age groups.
“Every city looks for an iconic landmark that will identify it regionally and internationally,” said Herriman City Mayor Carmen Freeman. “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 City offers something unique of its own, a wonderful location consistent with our belief in providing an iconic setting for a world-class venue in this sector of the valley.”
In conjunction with the primary RSL complex, Hansen has created the non-profit “RSL Youth Academy Foundation” which will create “regional training centers” across Utah and potentially Arizona, with the first three locations slated to be North Logan, Ogden and West Valley City, with Orem, St. George planned for Phase II. These $2 million indoor/outdoor facilities – each of which includes multiple classrooms – implement an RSL-designed curriculum to the more than 60,000 players, coaches and referees in need of specialized training (ages 14 and younger), providing an entry point for elite development in the sport, potential academy aspirations and an adjunct level of training regimens designed to complement the already excellent club/recreational system in Utah.
“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,” continued 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.”
“We embrace this sense of community through so many facets: our Foundation, the Utah and Arizona Academies, as an RSL fan, as a Monarchs fan, as we grow and connect with youth teams. The fun part of our program is there are numerous places to connect, with no one excluded, with literally everyone having a place in the RSL Family.”
In Herriman, the Training Complex Amenities include a total of eight (8) fields, with one for Herriman City public use and a total of seven (7) regulation-size soccer fields (75 yards wide by 120 yards long). Four of the fields will be natural grass and outdoor, with the remaining three fields utilizing state-of-the-art artificial surface. Two of the artificial fields will be housed in a 208,000 sq-ft. structure, the largest pre-engineered freespan building in North America. Atop this building will be a solar panel array from Auric Solar, roughly half the size of its Rio Tinto Stadium installation.
“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.”
In addition to the items mentioned above, 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. Intended to serve as the “Harvard of Soccer,” the charter school will host approximately 50 students from out of state, with these students boarded on-site in a satellite structure. Adjacent to that structure will be facilities to house visiting Real Monarchs’ opponents, visiting academy teams, and potentially international teams traveling to train in America.
“Herriman is led by great people to work with,” said Rio Tinto Stadium General Manager Craig Martin, the project leader from RSL. “Mayor Freeman and the City Manager Gordon Haight – among many, many others – have been very forward-thinking and aggressive in attracting the RSL/Monarchs and Academy infrastructure on a fast track. All the Herriman principals have been cooperative and flexible, which is why we are able to break ground by the end of the month, and will be open for business in July 2017.”
The facility will incorporate food and beverage operations allowing for daily meals for multiple team tenants, as well as meals for all charter school students. The facility will employ approximately 50 full-time staff members (coaches, school staff, food and beverage staff, cleaning, maintenance, and grounds crew). Part-time staff will number approximately 20.
“A number of months ago, we knew this was an opportunity being actively sought by other communities,” said Herriman City Councilor Coralee Moser. “We had land available, with views that are amazing; the Mountain View Corridor provides access – from day one, we were excited to make this a reality, and we are thrilled to partner with Mr. Hansen to make our city the home for this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.
“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,” continues Moser. “We are excited about Dell Loy’s vision for the facility, the prospect of both local and international visitors, as well as the ability to expand the campus as the community embraces the overall vision and increasing desire for education, entertainment and recreational value.”
Groundbreaking expected to commence late April, 2016, with the Facility opening in August, 2017, for that year’s Academy classes, and fully operational in advance of the 2018 MLS / USL campaigns.
“This complex will serve as the crown jewel of Herriman City, with our residents experiencing huge benefits on all fronts,” said Nicole Martin, 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.”
Last Saturday, April 2, RSL and the Monarchs saw a combined 11 current or former Academy players included in the pair of 18-man Claret-and-Cobalt rosters for RSL’s 2-1 win at Kansas City and the Monarchs’ 3-3 draw with LA Galaxy II, a testament to the quality of the club’s nascent developmental program.
“We already have a great Academy environment in Casa Grande, but the distance hasn’t allowed us to do things that other clubs are able to do,” said RSL Vice-President of Soccer Administration Rob Zarkos. “The Herriman Complex gives us an integrated team environment, which will allow us to do a better job with our young players, having all the teams in one venue with staggered times, as well as extend our academy presence to dovetail with the Arizona location.”
Adjacent to the facility, plans are underway for a residential and commercial mix of real estate development, with projections for more than 400 new homes and over 600 apartment units, as well as 32 acres of retail and mixed-use zoning.
“From a Herriman City perspective, this Complex will serve as a centerpiece for city-wide commercial and residential development,” said Jared Henderson, Herriman City Councilor. “As our city is connected via a major transportation corridor, we connect Salt Lake valley with Utah County; the residential component, along with restaurants, hotels, etc. will provide so much for our residents – recreational amenities, jobs, and more – will jumpstart development, provide an impetus as we look forward.”