After nearly nine years of tireless effort to build Real Salt Lake into one of Major League Soccer’s most consistent franchises, team founder and majority owner Dave Checketts is moving on.
Checketts announced during a press conference at Rio Tinto Stadium on Thursday afternoon that he has sold his controlling interest in Sports Capital Partners Worldwide’s Utah-based properties to minority owner Dell Loy Hansen.
The deal, which also involved Hansen buying out other minority owners, gives Hansen full ownership of Real Salt Lake, Rio Tinto Stadium, and KALL-AM 700 (ESPN700) – the home of the both Real Salt Lake and University of Utah athletics on the radio.
“The last eight years have been a labor of love,” Checketts said. “When we started I made a promise to build something of meaning; something that people in my home state of Utah could be proud of.
“Real Salt Lake has become much more than a soccer team, and Rio Tinto Stadium much more than a venue. Each has become integrally woven into the fabric of this community and become beloved assets to the people here. It is a legacy that I will forever take pride in, and I am happy to leave it in local hands. I know that Dell Loy will be a tremendous caretaker for the team, the stadium and all that both represent.”
Checketts founded Real Salt Lake in 2004, with the team beginning competition in 2005, and playing its first four seasons at the University of Utah’s Rice-Eccles Stadium before Rio Tinto Stadium opened its doors in October of 2008.
Hansen, a native of Cache Valley and lifelong Utah resident, became a minority owner of SCP Worldwide in 2009, just days prior to the team capturing the 2009 MLS Cup – the first professional sports title in Utah in 40 years.
“Just over three years ago, I was very proud to join Dave Checketts in the world of Real Salt Lake and Major League Soccer,” Hansen said. “Today, the chance to further deepen my participation in the growth of professional soccer in North America is incredibly exciting. My enthusiasm for this sport started long ago with my family, and now I am proud that our investment now includes the entire Real Salt Lake family – starting with our incredible fan base – as we work together representing the great State of Utah.”
Hansen founded Wasatch Property Management, Inc. in 1988, and has served as the company’s president since its inception, with corporate headquarters located in Logan, Utah. Hansen is also an owner in nearly a dozen venture companies, with approximately 900 employees located across Utah, Idaho and California. The companies range from a recycling and waste disposal company in Sacramento, California; several sports clubs throughout Utah and Idaho, a plastic injection & molding company, wood milling company and a golf course in Utah; and one of the largest utility management and billing companies in the United States. Wasatch and its affiliated investor-owned entities maintain a real estate portfolio in excess of $1.2 billion.
Hansen also served on the on the board of Utah’s Department of Business and Economic Development under former governor Michael Leavitt.
“Dave was the first new expansion owner to commit to the (MLS) in 2004 and he worked tirelessly to establish RSL as a legitimate and successful regional sports brand and to secure the funding for the construction of Rio Tinto Stadium,” MLS Commissioner Don Garber said. “Dave was new to the sport when he acquired the expansion team for Salt Lake City. And as anyone who attended a game with Dave knows, the entire Checketts family has grown to be enormously passionate about the sport, MLS and RSL.
“I … look forward to working with (Dell Loy) in his new capacity as the sole owner of RSL. Based on the commitment he has already shown, I know that Real Salt Lake is in great hands.”