Dell Loy Hansen is a man of extreme confidence. But on Tuesday when he joined representatives from Herriman and Real Salt Lake to break ground on the club’s new training facility in Herriman, he admitted that he was a bit nervous.
“I’m excited – beyond nervous to be frank because I came here today knowing that this is a special day and we wanted you to feel what it takes to build something of this magnitude,” Real Salt Lake’s Owner said. “I’m overwhelmed how many people came in support of this project.”
With upward of 250 people in attendance from Herriman that included a group of youth players that stand to directly benefit from the undertaking at the new facility, Hansen and others put shovels into the dirt. With 22 cement trucks pouring foundation, the chain of events that will forever change the future of Real Salt Lake and soccer in Utah was set into motion.
Hansen went on to describe his vision for the club that includes starting players at seven years old in regional training centers all throughout the state of Utah. From those programs, the club hopes to have 6-12 players join the Academy each year. With Martin Vasquez aboard as Director of the RSL Academy, there is a system already in place to produce MLS-ready talent. Having things centralized will only enhance that development process.
“I’ve described this facility that we’re building as the Harvard of soccer education,” Hansen said. “We literally will have no Academy finer in the nation or in Canada than what we’re building here.”
The facility will have eight fields and be the training home to RSL and the home stadium and practice facility for the Monarchs and the club’s U-18, U-16 and U-14 Academy teams, as well as the soccer teams from Salt Lake Community College and Herriman youth soccer teams.
It is scheduled to be completed in time to open the 2017-18 season for the Academy teams and the facility will also set up a charter school that will provide an educational home for the club’s Academy and others in the Herriman community.
“This is a community dream and I’m just a caretaker,” Hansen said. “This is a big project and we will be here for decades and decades training our youth and building something we as a community can be proud of.”
HERRIMAN WELCOMES RSL
Herriman Mayor Carmen Freeman and Herriman City Manager Brett Wood learned in recent years that Real Salt Lake would soon seek a local home for the Academy and a training facility for the club and soon started alerting Hansen on the merits and growth of Herriman. On Tuesday, Freeman saw the fruits of those conversations with the groundbreaking.
“This is a great day for soccer in general, the Real family and Herriman City. The heavy equipment is going. The dust is floating in the air. And you can smell diesel fuel. I don’t think there’s anything sweeter that can be happening to Herriman today,” Freeman said. “That means the project is moving forward and we’re excited for it.”
From the beginning of those conversations, Freeman and Wood saw the passion in Hansen’s vision and presented it to the city council. It didn’t take long for those visions to start to become reality and once the project is completed, it will open up the city for more growth – economically, educationally and in the quality of life in the already growing community.
The inclusion of the STEM charter school and the ability for local youth teams to take advantage of the facilities was important to both RSL and the city.
“What child wouldn’t want to grow up in the shadow of this facility and come down to this field and walk in the steps of those who played here and practiced here?” Freeman said. “It would be a wonderful experience and these young people are going to have that experience and in turn foster a great love for soccer.”