After Real Salt Lake owner Dell Loy Hansen and chief business officer Andy Carroll, both alleged to have cultivated a toxic workplace, took leaves of absence, Utah Soccer has hired an interim president: John Kimball, a ten-year veteran of Real Salt Lake under former owner Dave Checketts.
Kimball, who is currently president of Vivint Smart Home Arena, has a decade-long history with Real Salt Lake. He was an early Checketts employee at Real Salt Lake, having worked for the team two years before first kick.
While Real Salt Lake’s executive team was placed in charge of the club when Dell Loy Hansen took a leave of absence, the allegations against Carroll, who wielded a great deal of control within the club, look to have created enough of a vacuum that outside leadership was necessary.
Kimball will report to MLS Commissioner Don Garber, and will serve as the club’s representative on the MLS Board of the Governors, according to a release from Major League Soccer.
In the release, Garber described Kimball as bringing “extraordinary leadership and stability” to Utah Soccer.
“John Kimball is an experienced sports executive who brings extraordinary leadership and stability to the organization. John was instrumental in the launch of Real Salt LAke and has a deep connection to the local soccer community. We thank the Miller Family and Larry H. Miller Sports and Entertainment CEO Steve Starks for their support during this important transition period.”
It is unclear at this time if Kimball’s arrival signals something bigger — a change in ownership, for instance — or if it’s simply a former employee of the club coming on as a truly interim president.
It is also unclear who selected Kimball for the position. One might imagine that Dell Loy Hansen, as owner of the club, had some sort of say, but such would clash with his leave of absence. At any rate, leadership will certainly be needed at the club through the process of a sale.
While Kimball’s role at Real Salt Lake is an interim one, it is worth noting that Larry H. Miller Sports & Entertainment has been one of the mooted buyers of the club, with some reports indicating that they have had a longer-living interest than one stemming from the current crisis.
Kimball ended his time at Real Salt Lake proper in March 2013, when Dell Loy Hansen bought the organization. He moved to Real Media, the marketing agency for DLH-owned Broadway Media, before leaving in Aug. 2015 for the Utah Jazz as director of sales, according to his LinkedIn profile.
Kimball’s time at Vivint Smart Home Arena, home of the Utah Jazz, has been one with several accolades — at the beginning of 2020, the arena went cash-free in an effort to modernize and speed up transactions for concessions, and in April, the arena was certified for sensory inclusivity.