With today's announcement regarding the official officialness of our incoming USL Pro team, Real Monarchs, there's a lot we've learned — and still plenty we haven't. We've got the latest developments here.
What's with the SLC in Real Monarchs SLC?
Every other USL Pro team has their city or some other locative indicator in their name — from Dayton Dutch Lions to Tulsa Roughnecks, it's probably just a requirement the league has. And that's just fine, because we don't need away teams confused as to what city they're set to be visiting. Let's make those things crystal clear. I suspect everyone will continue calling it Real Monarchs without adding the clunky addendum.
What's the latest on the stadium deal?
Let's let Monarchs president Rob Zarkos explain from an interview on Saturday: "I've been meeting with the attorney general's office on a weekly basis to hammer out the lease, and we're going to have that done by Dec. 31. The big thing that we want to do is get that before the legislature. We're looking to hopefully have a vote in February or March on that. All indications are positive from the public, it's been great. We just really have to prove the model to them and show why it's a benefit to the fair park in general."
What else will be at the fair park stadium?
There have been discussions in the past about placing a women's team at the fair park, along with, say, a rugby team or a lacrosse team. There's still nothing definitive there, but an NWSL team is still being actively explored along with other options, Zarkos said. He also mentioned NFL developmental league teams being interested in the space, but it's unclear what that entails, as there is no official NFL tie with a minor league.
NWSL? That sounds nice.
We agree. Having a top-tier professional women's team in Salt Lake City would be a distinctly positive development. It's been some time since Utah had the regrettably named Utah Starzz around (they departed in 2003), leaving the state with a gap in fully professional women's sports — whereby they earn a living wage. It's not a sure thing, but discussions are ongoing. It could start in 2017.
And they'd still play on turf?
Yeah, that hasn't changed. That's because they're looking to get up to 100 events at the stadium in a year, and that sort of action would just destroy grass. Fair enough, really. The team will have, however, a grass practice field adjacent to the stadium. As an added bonus, the first team could train for teams like Seattle Sounders, Portland Timbers, Vancouver Whitecaps, and others who play on artificial surfaces.
When can we expect to see players signed?
Not yet, probably. With the MLS collective bargaining agreement up for renewal this year, it's very widely expected that there will be some changes to the roster rules and regulations for the first team. That will include some bits on 'minor league' loans and how those operate. That said, Garth Lagerwey indicated in a press release that some homegrown kids coming out of college have already been offered contracts: "We have some homegrown kids that are in college right now to whom we've begun offering contracts; they could be a very, very good nucleus there for a USL PRO team."
What about a coach?
Don't expect an announcement for a month or so on coaching staff of any sort — Jeff Cassar is involved in that decision, and if you hadn't noticed, he's been a little busy over the last few weeks. Zarkos wouldn't tell us who the coach being hired was — if there has indeed been a decision in the first place — but did provide some unsurprising background on the decision.
I think you guys will be excited with who it is. It's not too amazing of a decision. The person that's going to come in is very well going to understand the system, especially the development side. I've had conversations multiple times with Trey, Garth and Jeff Cassar. Everybody's excited. Everybody's on the same page.