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Real Salt Lake’s NWSL team will start play in 2018

The team is slated to play at Rio Tinto Stadium in Sandy.

Matt Montgomery

Real Salt Lake’s NWSL side will begin play in April 2018, according to a press release issued by the club and the league today.

They’ll be playing their home matches at Rio Tinto Stadium in Sandy, where Real Salt Lake’s first team also plays their home matches.

“(It’s) a red letter day, very similar to when Real Salt Lake came to Utah,” RSL owner Dell Loy Hansen said in a press conference announcing the team.

The deal came together in a short timeframe, Hansen said during the press conference.

“This deal came together very quickly,” Hansen said. “We always says Rome wasn’t built in a day, but you can’t blame us, we weren’t the contractors.”

RSL chief business officer Andy Carroll clarified the timeframe: a scant 15 days. Carroll thanked the influence of Portland Timbers and Portland Thorns, particularly owner Merritt Paulson, in helping RSL with the decision over the short timeframe.

He also said that the name would be announced soon.

“This club will be on-par with Real Salt Lake,” he said. “We wish we had the opportunity to divulge the name and the logo, but those things will be coming very soon.”

In the press conference, Hansen said the team will be a “rallying point for equality.”

“The locker rooms will be equal. The food will be equal. The participation will be equal. I honestly believe we will fill this stadium as easily as we do with the men’s team,” he said. “What we want to make this a rallying point for the evolution of equality for men and women in Utah.”

In the press conference, RSL general manager Craig Waibel said he would be acting as general manager of the NWSL team in addition to his broader organizational role. Waibel also said they were focusing on bringing in a coach and managing director shortly.

“We’ll be building a roster, and I’ll be the head of building the roster,” he said. “We’re already set to interview a coach in the next couple days. Our top target, and the coach we definitely want, is willing to listen. We’ll be bringing in a managing director that will report up to myself, and I’ll be working with him or her to establish how we build the roster.”

From an RSL press release:

"Our goal is build the very best women's sports organization in America," said Hansen, weeks before the club opens the $73 million Zions Bank Real Academy in Herriman, Utah, just 15 minutes southwest of Rio Tinto Stadium. "Only 15 days ago was I asked to look into this opportunity, and as we learned about the NWSL vision from the league office and met with A&E executives as well as U.S. Soccer about their aspirations on and off the field, we knew we not only wanted to join as quickly as possible and participate, but we believe that our current infrastructure as well as the development initiatives on the RSL horizon align perfectly. Our community is already passionate about women's sports, and we believe that empowering and advancing the women's game accelerates the change to build a better Utah."

From an NWSL press release, NWSL managing director Amanda Duffy:

“We are very excited to welcome Dell Loy Hansen and Real Salt Lake into the NWSL family as the newest member of our league,” NWSL Managing Director of Operations Amanda Duffy said. “During our discussions in this process, Real Salt Lake has demonstrated their unquestionable desire and commitment to bring the highest level of professional women’s soccer to all fans of the game in Salt Lake City and Utah. Real Salt Lake will immediately be able to hit the ground running on the business side as well as provide the players with a top-notch training ground and one of the best game venues in the country.”

We will continue updating this story throughout the press conference.