SANDY, Utah (ABC4 Sports) – The team’s name, logo, coach and roster have yet to be announced, but there will be professional women’s soccer being played next year at Rio Tinto Stadium.
“This is the culmination of the Real experience,” said Real Salt Lake owner Dell Loy Hansen. “We felt that women’s professional soccer was every bit as important as men.”
The RSL women’s team will be a part of the 10-team National Women’s Soccer League, which has been around since 2013 and is home to almost all of the U.S. Women’s National Team players.
“It’s a league we’re really proud of,” said NWSL managing director Amanda Duffy. “On the field, I feel like we have the most talent, and it’s the most competitive top to bottom year in and year out.”
“The best soccer in the world is United States women,” said Hansen. “The very best sports league in the world for women is in this league.”
But will Utah supports a professional women’s team? The WNBA’s Utah Starzz only lasted six seasons, but with the foundation and culture RSL has established, Hansen thinks this team will succeed.
“That’s a no-brainer,” he said. “We have more women participating in sports, young girls. They need an inspiration and they need a guiding light, and this is it.”
“When you have all of the facilities and all of the resources that are provided here at RSL,” said Duffy, “it’s going to give everything to make sure this is a professional environment.”
As for the roster, some players will come from the folding FC Kansas City team, some will be free agents, but there will also be an effort to find local talent.
“I think we’re foolish if we don’t,” said RSL general manager Craig Waibel, who will oversee roster decisions. “With six division one teams in the state, we have to start with a local talent base. In a state that is massively popular at a youth level with soccer, I think there are a lot of good players that are developing here.
The season runs from April through September, tickets will be inexpensive and Hansen is hoping for a family-friendly environment. But most importantly, this provides women in Utah a chance to thrive in athletics at a professional level.
“We believe in equality,” Hansen said. “That’s something I massively believe in. I have seven daughters, and I look at my granddaughters, and I think I want them to have every opportunity that any male would have.”