SANDY, Utah (Monday, December 7, 2020) – Utah Royals FC has entered into a mutually beneficial transaction with the National Women’s Soccer League that would permit the team to play in Kansas City for the upcoming 2021 season. This transaction provides clarity on where our remarkable and talented women will play soccer next year, while enabling new ownership to re-establish the Utah Royals FC name and franchise at Rio Tinto Stadium two years from now, in 2023.
Our hearts are full of gratitude and appreciation for the support and passion our fans have shared with us over the years. We hope to carry on the rich tradition of the Utah Royals FC with leadership that shares our mission to provide prominent world class resources for female athletes. To this end, we prioritize cooperation with the Leagues to ensure a smooth transition to new ownership, and we pledge our unwavering support for bringing Utah Royals FC back to Rio Tinto Stadium as soon as possible.
“We love the Utah soccer community and have been honored to work with these world-renowned professional women athletes,” said owners Dell Loy and Julie Hansen. “We will truly miss our athletes who have become our friends. We lend our full support to new owners who can continue our vision to have the women’s team equal to the men’s team in time, facilities, and resources and who can help shepherd the team into a new era of growth and success.”
Vice President of Soccer Operations Rob Zarkos commented “I would like to thank the players who gave their all to this community, the staff who worked to make it happen and the fans who supported us every step of the way. You are Utah Royals FC.”
Utah Royals FC commenced play in 2018 when the former FC Kansas City folded and Utah Soccer LLC purchased the rights to the team, moving it to Sandy, Utah. In just three years Utah Royals FC established a robust following in both the state of Utah and the soccer community at large around the world.
“When I first arrived to Salt Lake City three years ago, what stood out was the overwhelming support and excitement from the community,” Utah Royals FC General Manager Stephanie Lee said. “I hope fans have solace that women’s professional soccer will be back.”
In the team’s first season, under the tutelage of renowned women’s coach Laura Harvey, Utah Royals FC put its stamp on the NWSL. The team made major signings, including four FIFA Women’s World Cup Champions in Kelley O’Hara, Christen Press, Amy Rodriguez and Becky Sauerbrunn.
Utah Royals FC played its first ever match on March 28, 2018 in front of a sold-out, standing room only crowd of 19,203 at Rio Tinto Stadium to usher in a new era of women’s soccer in the United States. In its three years of play, the team emphatically earned the second-highest attendance in the league.
Throughout its existence, URFC saw some of the world’s most notable players don the club crest. In the club’s second year the team announced the monumental signing of Spain’s leading scorer and UEFA Women’s Championship winner Vero Boquete. In 2019, six URFC players joined their national teams at the 2019 FIFA Women’s World Cup in France, including Katie Bowen (New Zealand), Rachel Corsie (Scotland), Desiree Scott (Canada), as well as O’Hara, Press and Sauerbrunn who earned their second-consecutive World Cup title. The celebratory match marking the return of the six internationals from France brought in a crowd of 15,931 at Rio Tinto Stadium.
For their play in 2019, Press and Sauerbrunn were named to the NWSL Best XI and O’Hara to the NWSL Second XI. Additionally, Sauerbrunn was named Defender of the Year, the highest individual honor the club has earned.
Prior to the start of the 2020 season, Utah Royals FC drafted its highest class with a first-round pick in Tziarra King and a second-round pick in Kate Del Fava, both of whom played major roles during the club’s 2020 campaign.
Under unprecedented times due to COVID-19, Utah Royals FC Ownership donated approximately $900,000 to the League in order to host the 2020 NWSL Challenge Cup presented by P&G and Secret, to become the first professional sports league in America to return to play.
“When reflecting upon the last three years, it is impossible to ignore the staff that gave their commitment and hard work every day,” Lee said. “Striving to not only create an equality and professionally driven environment, but to consistently challenge the League and those around us for stronger ticket sales, more creative sponsorship support, and the will-power to host the 2020 NWSL Challenge Cup and become the first professional sports league to return to play.”
Utah Royals FC will provide further information in the coming weeks.