Mr. Dell Loy Hansen – B.S., Political Science, 1982
Gulp. Dell Loy Hansen admitted to swal¬lowing hard upon seeing one sizable line item in Real Salt Lake's books, which he scrutinized in detail before buying full ownership of the team in January. That entry obligated him to con¬tribute $7.5 million to a soccer-ori¬ented regional athletic complex that Salt Lake City is close to building at 1900 W. 2200 North. 'I wished it hadn't existed,' he said of the pledge, made by former Real Salt Lake owner Dave Checketts to secure public funding for the team's $110 million stadium in Sandy. But it did, and as far as Hansen was concerned, a deal is a deal. So he sat down with Salt Lake City Mayor Ralph Becker and confirmed he would fulfill the pledge when the city is ready to proceed on the soc-cer complex, whose development was held up for years by recently dis¬missed lawsuits. Hansen also reiterated his commitment to create a soccer acad¬emy where Utah's top teenage players could hone their skills and advance to higher levels of play, perhaps up to Real Salt Lake itself. In a small market such as Salt Lake City, developing home-grown talent is a financially responsible way to challenge the deep pockets of teams in New York and Los Angeles, Hansen figured. He viewed building the academy and up to 15 soccer fields as a means of accomplishing that goal. 'We were totally on the same page,' Hansen said of his meeting with Becker. 'It felt like a kumbaya moment.' City officials were ecstat¬ic that Hansen, a prominent downtown landowner, was fully behind the soccer project. 'We knew Mr. Hansen from his long engagement in the city, his development proj¬ects and community leader¬ship,' said Becker's spokes¬man, Art Raymond. 'We expect that same leadership to move RSL forward in ex¬citing ways. There are great opportunities for the city and RSL to participate in activities at the new complex.' This spring, the city plans to issue $15.3 million in bonds to begin construction of the complex, including one field with lights and seating for a couple of thousand spectators. Approved by voters in 2003, the bond issuance was held up for years by litigation filed by a group called the Jordan Riv¬er Restoration Project. But in mid-December, the Utah Su¬preme Court rejected the group's lawsuit, clearing the way for the project to proceed. Six weeks later, Hansen bought out Checketts and quickly put to rest any fears city officials might have had about RSL backing out. The lawsuits, in fact, put Hansen in a better position to fulfill his obligation, he said. They delayed the city's need for RSL's money long enough for Hansen to renegotiate the mortgage on Rio Tinto Stadium, freeing up cash for the complex and the academy. That was welcome news to Marco de Ruiter, technical di¬rector of Sparta United Soccer Club and a coach of boys ages 15 through 18 the players targeted by Real. 'We have some very good players in Utah.' he said. 'The biggest benefit [of the acade¬my] is that the best players from different clubs in the state will play together and they will have to improve to go to the next level. 'I'm very happy with the soccer complex, too. It will make soccer better in Utah,' de Ruiter added, contending the lighted championship field will help Utah attract large regional tournaments and their economic impact. Now that the mortgage adjustment on the stadium has stabilized Real Salt Lake's financial situation, the real estate developer in Hansen also is eager to begin upgrad¬ing the land around Rio Tinto Stadium. Sandy city officials had big hopes for turning that hodge¬podge of nondescript build¬ings and vacant lots into an economic-development plum. But just as the stadium opened in October 2008, the financial system (including Checketts' financial partner, Lehman Brothers) crashed. The Great Recession brought urban renewal to a halt. Almost five years later, Hansen and city officials have high hopes again. 'We've had some dialogue with Dell Loy. He's a developer by trade, so this is right up his alley. He has some great ideas,' said Nick Duerksen, Sandy's director of business and economic development. 'We've never given up on the vision of what can happen.' he added. 'Last year we rein¬vigorated discussion about the land around the stadium. Real has been front and center in those discussions.' That's right, Hansen said, citing a desire to expand team facilities for an interactive fan zone, add more parking and retail space, and maybe even build a four-star hotel. 'We've done some sketches.' he said, 'but we had to fix the [financial] drain in the [team] bathtub first.'