New Real Salt Lake owners excited for the team’s future, MLS officials say partnership is ‘the perfect fit’
SANDY, Utah — News of new ownership is prompting the phrase “a new era” for Real Salt Lake. On Thursday the new Real Salt Lake owners addressed the media for the first time. They talked about their vision for the club and why they wanted to be the new stewards of the franchise.
New Real Salt Lake owners are “the perfect fit” said MLS officials
Major League Soccer officials describe the partnership of RSL owners Dave Blitzer and Ryan Smith as “the perfect fit.” Smith, they said, has a deep love for Utah and wants to see the community improve.
On the other hand, they said Blitzer has a wealth of experience running professional sports teams. He is part-owner of the Philadelphia 76ers, the New Jersey Devils, and six different soccer clubs in Europe.
Commissioner Don Garber said there was never any consideration given to moving the team to another city.
“We were committed from the very beginning that this team and all the assets around it would stay in Salt Lake,” Garber said.
Blitzer said he has always been a big soccer fan. But his love for the sport grew when he moved to Europe. He currently has part ownership of six European teams and says he was impressed with the growth of Major League Soccer.
So, he wanted to be part of it.
“The reality is that I moved back to America in 2011, and one of the first people that I sought out to meet was Don Garber,” said Blitzer.
Blitzer was looking for someone anchored in Utah
However, none of those discussions felt quite right to Blitzer. He wanted to form a partnership with someone anchored in Utah before arranging to buy the team.
It was about the right market and the right partner.”
That’s how Utah Jazz owner Ryan Smith came into the picture. Smith and Blitzer got to know each other through ownership meetings in the NBA, and they both say they were encouraged to form a partnership by their friends and peers. Smith said he had been interested in RSL for a long time, but other business opportunities prevented him from forming a partnership with Blitzer until recently.
“Our ownership group took a look at RSL a year ago,” Smith said. “And two weeks later we were under contract with the Jazz. So, we have been a little busy, but, our love for what RSL brings to this community and the state of Utah has not wavered, at all.”
RSL’s footprint goes global
Smith says he’s excited to have RSL’s global footprint expand with connections to six other clubs in Europe. Analysts say having two popular teams in one city owned by the same person can expand fanbases.
“Sports are about bringing people together and doing that in a world where it seems like everything takes us apart,” Smith said.
There are still a lot of questions about how the team will be led. Will the new owners increase spending to attract better players and training staff? Will there be major changes to team management? Blitzer says it’s too soon to answer those questions, but they have a good transition team in place.
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