Group Created with Sketch.
Volume 27 No. 26
  • Created with Sketch.
  • Created with Sketch.
  • Created with Sketch.

Sale price for Real Salt Lake, Utah Soccer Holdings starts at $500 million

Early-stage talks around the sale of Utah Soccer Holdings are beginning around $500 million, according to a source with knowledge of the situation. Utah Soccer includes Real Salt Lake (MLS), Real Monarchs (USL), Utah Royals FC (NWSL) and Rio Tinto Stadium, among other soccer-related entities. 

Both finance and soccer sources have pegged the benchmark sale price attached specifically to RSL around $325 million, the expansion fee that billionaire David Tepper paid for Charlotte FC last year. The league’s most recent control transaction was in September 2019, when Joe Mansueto acquired 51% of Chicago Fire FC at a $400 million valuation (including his initial 49% acquisition the prior year, Mansueto paid a total $322 million for the team).

Real Salt Lake owner Dell Loy Hansen, who acquired full ownership of RSL in October 2013 after three-plus years as a minority investor, recently decided to sell Utah Soccer following numerous reports alleging a history of racist comments and behavior in addition to other misconduct, behavior for which he is currently under investigation by MLS and NWSL. Hansen’s investigation also follows anti-player protest comments he directed at his team on Aug. 27, saying on a local Utah radio station, “The disrespect is profound to me personally.” 

 

Chief Business Officer Andy Carroll has been on a leave of absence since Sept. 1 and is also under investigation by both U.S. pro soccer leagues over allegations of sexism and workplace misconduct.

Larry H. Miller Sports & Entertainment, which owns the Utah Jazz and Class AAA Salt Lake Bees, and Ryan Smith, CEO and co-founder of Utah-based software company Qualtrics, have expressed initial interest in Utah Soccer, sources said.

Houston Texans star defensive end J.J. Watt also initially tweeted his interest in Utah Soccer on Aug. 30. A source familiar with the situation said Watt and his representatives have started the exploratory process of assessing what his involvement could look like. In an Aug. 27 tweet, Toronto FC’s Jozy Altidore said, “I’m involved in a group that’s ready to purchase it. Time for change.” It’s unclear who else is involved in Altidore’s group or how it’s approaching a potential investment.

 

Some sources questioned if the eventual buyer of Utah Soccer will get a discount as a result of the coronavirus pandemic, possible brand damage related to Hansen’s actions or a limited buyer’s market. Still, a built-in facility infrastructure and strong community ties are attractive qualities, people said. Over the past 10 days, multiple sources have reiterated that the present goal for Utah Soccer is to sell together all of its assets versus orchestrating multiple sales. In regards to a sale timeline, one person with knowledge of the process said that “the sooner, the better.”