Jackie Johnson, one of the owners of the new Sportsplex in Kaysville, told the city council Tuesday night that Real Salt Lake is looking for training and housing facilities and is exploring the possibility of a "home base" in Kaysville. "[They are] excited to come this way because they think that will increase their customer base," she said.
There are locker and indoor soccer facilities at the Sports-plex, and Johnson says the team has already been practicing on the indoor fields. She says private investors are willing to contribute $10 to $15 million to build an upscale extended-stay hotel to house Real players and visiting teams and to develop two full-sized soccer fields, one covered, with seating for 15,000 spectators--a facility that could also attract Utah Blaze football games.
According to Johnson, Salt Lake City doesn't have the land resources for the team to train, but other cities are interested in hosting Real Salt Lake. Park City is putting together a proposal to entice the team to go east. Many people see the advantages of a Real presence in their city. Enhanced facilities in Kaysville would not only bring Real soccer to Davis County, says Johnson, but would draw tourism dollars to the city. Many soccer, volleyball, and other team tournaments could be staged at the facility, and teams could rent rooms in the extended-stay hotel.
As part of the stadium agreement Real Salt Lake made with the state, Real must commit some $7.5 million to promote youth soccer. Kays-ville has several acres already available for youth sports, and that is another enticement for the team to come to Kaysville.
With so much to be excited about, the city council members all wanted to know the same thing: What's the catch? What exactly are they asking for from the city? The simple answer is raw acreage. Private investors are willing to develop the soccer fields, but the team needs the city to provide the land. Approximately six to eight acres east of the Sports-plex, held by a private owner, could be used for the housing facility and two soccer fields. Jackie Johnson says the owner is willing to explore options with the city such as a land swap or a purchase agreement. The thought is that the city would retain ownership of the land and be able to utilize the fields for all but 40 days out of the year.
While some on the council expressed reluctance to use public monies to fund private enterprise, the council agreed that the proposal is worth studying. Jackie Johnson said the county's economic development department is "running some numbers" to assess the economic benefits to the city and county.