Report: RSL Ownership Among Strongest Bids For NWSL Expansion

May 14, 2022, 3:43 PM
Utah Royals FC forward Christen Press (23) celebrates after scoring a goal as the Salt Lake Royals and Sky Blue FC play at Rio Tinto Stadium in Sandy on Wednesday, Aug. 7, 2019. (Courtesy of Deseret News)
(Courtesy of Deseret News)

SALT LAKE CITY – Real Salt Lake owners David Blitzer and Ryan Smith own one of the strongest bids for an NWSL expansion club, according to soccer analyst Grant Wahl.

The sports journalist reported that Utah is among the locations with MLS owners who have a strong bid to welcome a new professional women’s soccer team.

The Kansas City Current, previously known as Utah Royals FC, called the Beehive State home from 2018-20.

“Sources tell me 5 MLS ownership groups have strong interest in starting NWSL expansion teams—plus two non-MLS groups in MLS cities,” Wahl tweeted on Friday, May 13. “This week sources with knowledge of the situation told me which cities have the strongest bids for NWSL expansion. They are the MLS owners in Atlanta, Austin, Cincinnati, Salt Lake and Toronto and non-MLS owners in Columbus and the San Francisco Bay Area (the last two of which would likely use the MLS stadiums in Columbus and San Jose).

RSL Ownership on NWSL Expansion

Blitzer and Smith were announced as the new owners of Real Salt Lake in January.

Shortly after the ownership transfer, Blitzer released the following statement on the potential of bringing an NWSL club back to Utah:

“We do have an option to bring the Royals back to Utah and back to this marketplace. And I think the best way to say is that’s from our perspective, that’s a function of when, not if. We’re at day one, but this has been an important item that Ryan and I have talked about a lot, and we’re very excited to bring an NWSL team back to this marketplace. They did incredibly well here. The fanbase loves it. The market is growing. The athletes are incredible. Women’s soccer is continuing to grow dramatically and this is a perfect place to have this team.”

Utah Royals FC

The Royals were first established in Sandy, Utah as an NWSL expansion club in 2017. The team played as the Royals from 2018-20 and held its home matches at Rio Tinto Stadium.

In December 2020, the league announced that the Royals would cease to operate in Utah and the club’s players were transferred to Kansas City.

In January, the new RSL ownership group took hold of the option to bring back an NWSL club beginning in 2023.

“When I first arrived to Salt Lake City three years ago, what stood out was the overwhelming support and excitement from the community,” former Utah Royals FC general manager Stephanie Lee said in 2020. “I hope fans have solace that women’s professional soccer will be back.”

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