Monday, January 29, 2007

Real Salt Lake is dead

Less then three years after the world's greatest game came to Utah in professional form, it looks like it is over. Earlier today Salt Lake County Mayor Peter Corroon made it official, they will not invest $30 million into the development of the stadium area in Sandy, killing the deal for Real Salt Lake. Team owner Dave Checketts quickly announced his disapproval with the move saying he will sell the team and they will move after the 2007 season.

Sandy Mayor Tom Dolan said he disagreed with Corroon's decision as his city had pledged $15 million to the project.

Corroon did say the county will still build a parking garage across from the site and if Real decides to fund their whole stadium, he will work with the team to find a "favorable agreement for parking."

It looks as if the parking lot offer will not be enough as the team had promised MLS to get a stadium in the league's smallest market or move the team.

With less then 200,000 people living in Salt Lake City, MLS took a major risk in placing a team there. The fact that this risk has failed them will probably make them very shy when it comes to placing teams in anywhere but the biggest markets. Now the question for Real is where will then end up?

Contenders include St. Louis, San Jose, Philadelphia, Seattle, Cleveland and Minneapolis. Will one of the groups involved with any of these cities be able to raise the needed cash and get a stadium deal moving?

The biggest losers here are the fans in Salt Lake. They were very loyal to their team and were an amazing display of how soccer can find supporters anywhere in the county.

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