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MLS had a tremendous summer in 2004. The league was growing for the first time since 1998, just two and a half years after the league was on the verge of collapse and both of its Florida franchises were dissolved.
Deportivo Guadalajara (better known by its goat-inspired Chivas nickname), one of Mexico’s most well-known soccer companies, was bringing a franchise called Chivas USA to Los Angeles for the 2005 season.
Salt Lake City, which some deemed a shocking choice, was also announced as a second expansion team by the league at the same time. Dave Checketts, the former owner of the Utah Jazz, is to be credited for that, as he was the team’s president and general manager at the age of 27.
According to Checketts, Utah was ready to have its own soccer team. Real Salt Lake, despite the fact that the team had yet to be formally renamed, had already been in his head since the franchise’s announcement.
As RSL’s vice president of broadcast and communications, Trey Fitz-Gerald, explains: “He wanted a name that was truly soccer.” Fitz-Gerald departed MLS’s PR office in the fall of 2004 for his current position. Prior Utah soccer teams, such as the Golden Spikers and the Blitzz (which Fitz-Gerald referred to as “the dreaded double Z”), had a few names floating around at the time of the announcement.
While working with NBA International and promoting basketball around the world, Checketts had the opportunity to see a lot of Europe and developed a deep admiration for Real Madrid. It also helped that the Spanish club was a powerhouse in both basketball and soccer.
As a youngster, “it was my favourite name,” says Checketts. As a Real Madrid supporter, I had long admired the club’s management style and ideology.
The results of a survey done by the team showed that the general public favoured the Pioneers and Highlanders. Checketts was forced to consider this possibility because the Highlanders garnered such a large number of votes.
Checketts was encouraged by the fact that Real Salt Lake narrowly won the public poll, so he took one more step toward realising his vision. When he wanted to use the name, he had to get permission from Real Madrid.
Fitz-Gerald jokes that “there was no monarchy in Utah to confer the name on us” despite the fact that over 40 teams throughout the world use the moniker “Real.” However, Checketts thought it appropriate to ask Real Madrid.
Rice-Eccles Stadium played host to the official unveiling of the new moniker in October 2004. The football stadium on campus was a temporary home while Checkett’s sought funding to build a permanent, soccer-specific facility.
For example, one family member may pronounce it “real” (like “real butter”) and another would correct it. Checketts said that he imagined these dialogues. However, the team worked tirelessly with the media to ensure that the Spanish pronunciation was conveyed accurately to the general public.
Additionally, the team’s then-owner decided to incorporate both red and blue into the team’s uniforms for its launch. The Holy War, an annual college football game between the University of Utah and Brigham Young University, took place in Salt Lake City, which served as the epicentre of a fierce rivalry between the two schools.
The colours of the RSL team were designed to bridge that gap and make RSL a team for everyone. Inadvertently, it cloaked Real Madrid’s sibling team FC Barcelona in the colours of the Catalans’ adversaries.
Real Salt Lake Biography/Wiki
Checketts laughs as he admits, “I thought about it.” We had so much educating to do that if someone approached me and questioned, ‘Why did you use the Real name with Barcelona colours?’ I would have answered, ‘I’m so glad you know that.'” ”
As a result, the Kansas City Wizards, who would shortly rebrand with a similarly outlandish, European-inspired name, took notice of the team’s unique moniker. RSL’s early days in Salt Lake City were marked by difficult talks to secure a permanent location. Without a new home to call their own, the initials RSL might now stand for Real St. Louis.
When Real Madrid arrived, it was a game-changer for Checketts’ plans for a new stadium. On August 12, 2006, Checketts and the Spanish team flew to Utah to play a Real versus. Real exhibition match in Utah.
A week before kickoff, county officials tried to thwart a state legislature-approved plan to use hotel tax money to build a new stadium. As stated by Checketts, the deadline for a stadium deal has been pushed back to the exhibition game date.
County officials actually voted against stadium funding the day before the game. He decided to take a risk, however. To announce a stadium that was still being resisted by the county government, he urged Real Madrid club management and players to participate in an emergency news conference–and they agreed.
“We mowed this 40-year-old hayfield in the centre of Sandy, Utah, and put together a ceremonial groundbreaking,” Fitz-Gerald recounts. A huge amount of faith had to be put into it.”
|Team Name||Real Salt Lake|
|Established in||14 July 2004|
|Head Quarters||Salt Lake City, Utah, United States|
|Area/ Stadium||Rio Tinto Stadium|
|Real Salt Lake Phone Number, Email ID, Address, Fanmail, Tiktok and More|
|House address (residence address)||NA|
|Phone Number||(801) 727-2700|
Real Salt Lake Contact Details
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