Real Salt Lake Bringing NWSL Franchise To Utah; FC K.C. To Cease Operations
Real Salt Lake Owner Dell Loy Hansen on Thursday formally announced that a "Utah-based NWSL franchise would begin play" in April, according to Maddie Lee of the SALT LAKE TRIBUNE. The club will be "owned and operated by RSL" and will "play its home games at Rio Tinto Stadium." Hansen said that his bid for an NWSL team "really began in earnest" when Timbers and NWSL Thorns Owner Merritt Paulson "reached out to him." Hansen said Paulson "really felt that we could add true value” to the NWSL. RSL officials "flew to Portland to meet with Paulson and his team" and spent "seven hours discussing how RSL could launch a NWSL team." The name of RSL’s NWSL team will be announced at a later date. RSL "expects some overlap between the women’s and men’s sides, but the club will also add new positions to operate the new team." Meanwhile, a source confirmed NWSL FC K.C "will cease operations for next season." NWSL Managing Dir of Operations Amanda Duffy "would not confirm the demise" of the franchise, but she Duffy confirmed the league "will remain in its current 10-team configuration next season" (SALT LAKE TRIBUNE, 11/17). In Utah, Jody Genessy writes RSL has "long wanted to bring a top-tier women’s team to the state, and a golden opportunity presented itself" when FC K.C. ownership two weeks ago "decided to sell its women’s team." Even though RSL is "neck-deep in a massive project" to get the $73M Real Academy "up and running this winter, Hansen decided to pursue purchasing the NWSL franchise." He had originally "planned on beginning this process two years from now." The club "isn't sure whether it's assuming" FC K.C.'s players or if it "will be starting from scratch to build a roster" (DESERET NEWS, 11/17). Hansen said that he has "no plans to build a smaller stadium for the women’s team because the women will fill Rio Tinto" (SALT LAKE TRIBUNE, 11/17). He also indicated that ticket prices "will be affordable because salaries aren’t astronomical" (DESERET NEWS, 11/17).
ADDING TO THE FOLD: In Barcelona, Joan Poquí reported the Barcelona women's team that will compete in the NWSL "is expected to make its debut in '19." Santa Monica "is likely to be where the team is based" (MUNDO DEPORTIVO, 11/16).