The National Women’s Soccer League is heading to Rio Tinto Stadium. On Thursday, the league announced that Real Salt Lake of Major League Soccer will launch a new club for the 2018 season, with home matches to be played at Rio Tinto Stadium.
“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.”
The club was formally announced at a press conference in Utah at 1 p.m. ET on Thursday at Rio Tinto, with Duffy, as well as Real Salt Lake owner Dell Loy Hansen and Utah Governor Gary Herbert were in attendance.
While the new team is being announced today, there’s also plenty more on the way. There will be announcements on the team’s name and brand identity, tickets, broadcast options and corporate opportunities, coaching and formation over the next few days and weeks.
Real Salt Lake just finished its 13th season in Major League Soccer, and it has reached the top of the league with club’s 2009 MLS Cup win. They have over 14,000 season ticket holders. In addition to their MLS side, the organization also added a USL team in 2015, the Real Monarchs.
Real Salt Lake also just added a new world-class training facility, the Zions Bank Real Academy, which also includes a 5,000 seat stadium that hosts the USL team. The $73 million facility will open in a matter of weeks.
“Our goal is build the very best women’s sports organization in America,” Hansen said. “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.”