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Real Salt Lake announces new owner

Thursday, January 24, 20131096 views

01/24/13--In what his wife Deborah described as a “bittersweet” move, Dave Checketts today passed on the ownership of Real Salt Lake to businessman Dell Loy Hansen.

“It’s time to turn it over to a very capable local owner,” Checketts said.

Checketts said he has been working with Hansen for several months to bring him on board. Hansen will acquire all of Checkett’s shares in the Major League Soccer team and will be the sole owner.

“Dave invited me to come in -- very painfully,” Hansen said.

Both Dave and Deborah Checketts acknowledged turning over the reins has been a difficult thing.

“Just last week we had a conversation where Dave said to me, ‘This is so hard to let this go. I wanted to leave this as a legacy to this family,’” Deborah Checketts said. “I told him his legacy was the loyalty and love he inspired in the process.”

In recent years the team and its stadium have labored under a high-interest loan that has effectively shackled them, Checketts said.

Hansen has been able to secure a Zions Bank lower-interest loan, effectively freeing up $5,000 a day or $1.8 million a year.

Calling Real Salt Lake “the little David that could,” Hansen said he was drawn to investing in the team as he considered the great impact of Utah’s professional teams on economic development in the state.

He said he also made this decision based on “the fans and family.”

“The intensity of this fan base is just amazing,’ he said. “Part of our culture is the connection to the fans.”

For his part, Sandy Mayor Tom Dolan is excited about the economic development the changeover could bring.

In addition to acquiring new financing, Hansen has been able to purchase properties around the stadium which will facilitate moving forward with plans to build a hotel, restaurants, retail shops and possibly even an indoor year-round sports facility.

“This is a positive shift,” Dolan said. “The problem has been the higher interest financing of the stadium. This secures the team’s existence in Utah and brings opportunities with a new owner developer to develop around the stadium.”

Checketts credited Dolan as the driving force behind bringing the stadium and the team to Sandy.

Dolan said he first realized that Checkett’s dream would be a perfect match for Sandy at a sports commission meeting several years ago where he outlined his plans.

“I thought, ‘I like that vision. We’ve got a piece of property in Sandy that fits that vision,’” he said.

Dolan said he has been meeting with Hansen for several months. Now, “it’s time for us to sit down and flesh out future development plans,” he said.

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