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RSL aiming to build $45-50 million local academy, training facility

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Real Salt Lake has plans to build a Utah-based academy and training facility in the Salt Lake Valley.

Herriman City Council Planning Commission agenda

Real Salt Lake is set to build an 42-acre academy and training facility in Herriman, Utah, that could cost an estimated $45 to $50 million.

In a Feb. 4 Herriman City Planning Commission meeting, Real Salt Lake's Vice President of Stadium Operations, Craig Martin, described the proposed 42-acre facility as the potential "base of operations" for Real Salt Lake and Real Monarchs, in addition to the academy.

The facility would include eight fields, including four natural grass fields for the Real Salt Lake academy.

Herriman City Council Planning Commission agenda

The facility, which seems to be titled "Real Salt Lake Training Academy," would serve as home to an charter school that includes boarding for RSL academy U-18 and U-16 teams. The team is planning to bring 50 of those players from Arizona to be housed in Herriman, Martin told the commission.

"It will also have a charter school that will bring our academy up from Casa Grande up to Salt Lake Valley," he told members of the commission. "We've got roughly 250 kids in the charter school, 50 of which will travel up from Arizona. They'll be boarded right there."

Martin made no mention of future plans for the Casa Grande, Ariz.-based Grande Sports Academy. An indoor facility, which is shown on the documents submitted to the planning commission, would manage the cold weather and snow concerns that made a Utah-based academy difficult.

The plans call for more than just an academy site, though. In that same meeting, Martin told the commission that it would be the "base of operations" for Real Salt Lake and Real Monarchs, with Rio Tinto being used primarily for game (and not daily) operations.

"This will literally be the base of operations for RSL and the Monarchs," Martin said. "Rio Tinto Stadium has now really turned into a gameday venue only, this will literally be their full-time home along with the academy. Really, three main tenants, per se."

Training facilities

The facility site, which the commission approved the conditional use of based on the application, would be one of the top training facilities in the nation, Martin told the commission. As such, it could attract international-caliber teams; Martin cited Manchester City, Manchester United, and Barcelona, to whom the front office has shown the plans.

"One of the real attractive things that we've seen overseas is we've showed this plan to folks from Man City, Manchester United, Barcelona," he said. "There isn't a place stateside right now where they could come and utilize the warm weather in their offseason to practice that will met their needs."

The facility would outstrip those built recently by Toronto, New York Red Bulls, and Kansas City, Martin said.

"None of these compare remotely to this particular training facility," he said. "This will be the best one in North America that's built, bar none. When we approached some of these other teams and showed them what we're building, they showed great interest in coming over here and training at this facility for three weeks to a month, roughly, which obviously has a sizable economic impact."

Real Monarchs

The application also included facilities for Real Monarchs, who are still playing at Rio Tinto Stadium after having a Utah State Fair Park stadium proposal fail, and who don't have a permanent training facility themselves.

Herriman City Council Planning Commission agenda

The conceptual layout provided to members of the commission included that stadium, as well as approximately 700 parking areas for its use. That implies a smaller stadium, with the layout's notes specifying that the parking ratio is four seats to one parking stall. That would place the stadium at about 2,800 capacity — down from the planned 6,000 seat stadium that would have been in West Valley City.

The conceptual layout specifies that the stadium (left) would have a turf field, as was the plan in other Real Monarchs concepts.

In a Jan. 20 Salt Lake Tribune article, Hansen said stadium plans had changed in favor of a larger training facility, which would also include a stadium on-site.

"It's a large change, and it will actually mean we'll have to invest almost $15 million more than we planned on investing on the Monarchs stadium," he told Tribune reporter Chris Kamrani. "We'll make a larger investment, but it will be what the team needs, as opposed to as the stadium."

Martin said there was a possibility of a women's soccer team playing at the facility, as well as potentially a rugby team and recreational soccer and lacrosse teams.

The facility would be located at 3600 W. Autumn Crest Dr. in Herriman. The location is an approximate 25-minute drive southwest from Rio Tinto Stadium in Sandy. Plans would see the facility groundbreaking in October, with completion expected for July 2017.