Dell Loy Hansen will sell Utah soccer teams

It took only three days from his first remarks on Thursday morning until Sunday when Dell Loy Hansen announced that he will sell Utah Soccer Holdings, which includes Real Salt Lake, the Utah Royals and Real Monarchs.

Hansen spoke on Utah radio station X96 about feeling disrespected by Real Salt Lake players, who joined players from other MLS teams in not playing on Wednesday night as a protest following the police shooting of Jacob Blake in Kenosha, Wisconsin.

The backlash was immediate.

Hansen tried to walk back his comments later in the day on another radio station, ESPN 700, which he also owns via Broadway Media, but the damage was done. Later on Thursday, The Athletic published a story in which he was accused of making racist remarks. That story prompted MLS, in which Real Salt Lake has played since 2005, and the NWSL where the Royals have played since 2018, to open investigations into Hansen's behavior. The next day, Hansen said he would take a leave of absence.

In a statement released on Sunday morning, Hansen said he was getting out of soccer:

"I recognize that at times I have spoken too quickly, without pausing to consider the feelings or good intentions of others.  This is not acceptable and I assume full responsibility for allowing my words to travel unfiltered as to their significance and impact.

"I believe that communities are strengthened by diversity.  I am truly sorry for offending and being insensitive to the plight of others.  I seek to do better and commit to supporting and improving diversity and inclusion in my own community going forward.

"After deep consideration and soul-searching, my wife Julie and I agree that the best way forward for the Real Salt Lake family is to assume new ownership and a refreshed vision.  We are fully invested in supporting the transition to new ownership and will work diligently to try to ensure that the Club stays within our community.  We will support the organization and its employees in moving quickly so as to minimally disrupt this season and allow new ownership adequate time to plan for the 2021 season.

"Real Salt Lake has our full support.  We have been blessed with loving friendships that are expressed daily.  These will be sorely missed.  We love our community and our family and sincerely hope for the best outcomes for each.  Know that our hearts will always bleed Claret and Cobalt."

Hansen's soccer holdings include the Real Salt Lake Academy High School, the Zions Bank Real Academy and Rio Tinto Stadium, which opened in 2008. The academy and high school were built at a cost of $78 million to house the RSL academy program previously based in Arizona. The Zions Bank Stadium hosted all but three games at the 2020 NWSL Challenge Cup, the successful restart of the women's league that Hansen was instrumental in organizing.

The Salt Lake Tribune reported that Hansen apologized to RSL players and coaches. RSL defender Nedum Onuoha, who had helped raise money to be paid to about 90 furloughed RSL workers during the pandemic, told the BBC he could no longer play for a team owned by someone like Hansen.

“Nedum Onuoha is one of the finest men that I have ever met,” Hansen wrote in the letter obtained by the Salt Lake Tribune. “To him, I offer my sincerest apology for not being an owner that he can believe in. He is right and please accept my acknowledgment of that failure.”

Hansen is the president of Wasatch Property Management, which he founded in 1988 and whose real estate portfolio -- 12,000 apartment buildings, five condo buildings and 20 commercial buildings -- was worth  in excess of $1.2 billion, according to the club web site. Other holdings include businesses in recycling and waste disposal, plastic injection and molding, a wood mill, a golf course and a media company. He is also big in solar energy.

He initially joined the RSL ownership group in October 2009 and acquired full ownership of the team from founding owner Dave Checketts in January 2013.

Hansen made national news in 2019 when he paid $1.32 million for a rare coin at a Chicago auction, a 1894-S Barber Dime, one of only 24 ever made.

MLS commissioner Don Garber:

"MLS will work with Mr. Hansen on supporting the sale efforts for the company and will work closely with the club's executive staff to support the operations of the team during the transition period. I want to acknowledge Dell Loy Hansen's significant efforts to build the sport of soccer in the state of Utah and for his commitment to Major League Soccer."

NWSL commissioner Lisa Baird:

"Mr. Hansen's contributions to the league's growth and continued development of soccer are notable, but we agree that the decision is the right one for the future of the Royals. We look forward to supporting the Royals players and staff and will assist the ownership transition in every way possible."

9 comments about "Dell Loy Hansen will sell Utah soccer teams".
  1. R2 Dad, August 31, 2020 at 1:46 a.m.

    My take: MLS would only backstop the sale if Hansen raised a fist and bent the knee. Having issued his mea culpa, MLS can now sweep this under the rug. The problem remains, players now can ignore management and their contract requirements because of their personal conscience--they were very clear this was their call and not the owners'. Not a big deal now but possibly terrible precedent. 

  2. Philip Larkin, August 31, 2020 at 9:34 a.m.

    So long MLS.

  3. Bob Ashpole, August 31, 2020 at 1:24 p.m.

    Nobody is sweeping this "under the rug". Look at the big picture. MLS is like a partnership of the club owners. What one owner does impacts the financial interests of all of the owners. For both NWSL and MSL. The MLS owners all have a say in who becomes an owner, so its a pretty good assumption that any club ownership transactions are what the majority of owners want. Which seems appropriate to me. This is not a corporation whose stock is traded publicly.

  4. R2 Dad replied, August 31, 2020 at 1:42 p.m.

    Bob, this is a big moment in sports right now. Unfortunately, I don't see anything concrete resulting from all this posturing. There are no policy recommendations as all the sentiment is so general in nature. And the only suggestions from BLM are marxist platitudes that business owners and fans won't buy in to. So what is all this about, really? The way this is going, no one will remember much from it other than rioting/burning/looting of the same neighborhoods these actions are supposedly supporting. Just like Rodney King in LA--nothing came from that, either. People will remember 2020 as a national, COVID-related tantrum and nothing more. Where is today's MLK that will unite, uplift and demand societal change everyone says they want but can't define?

  5. Guy Walling, August 31, 2020 at 2:05 p.m.

    Athletes have feelings too and more importantly they have constitutional rights. For those of you who are offended that they go outside of their contract to defend social issues that are only being addressed by blame, should perhaps look in the mirror and ask yourself what more can I do for my fellow man/women. If Trump can illegally use tax payers money to conduct his campaign at the people's house, athletes should be allowed to use stadiums, ballparks, and arenas for their more worthy campaign! 

  6. Wooden Ships replied, August 31, 2020 at 2:14 p.m.

    Guy, I think we know which party has been in a constant state of offense since the last election. Should the encumbant win, I hope you'll be alright-sincerely. 

  7. Guy Walling, August 31, 2020 at 2:25 p.m.

    Another point to ponder: While I'm not a big fan of Dell Roy Hansen and found his comments to be quite disturbing I am very confused. I am very confused as to why Hansen was pressured to sell his club for the disgusting and insensitive comments, but some of us, fewer now than before still support a president that has had numerous affairs, numerous divorces, says things like, grabbing women's private parts, shooting people on 5th Av, calling female politicians fat pigs and on and on...and people don't run him out. See the hypocrisy here? Racism runs on that same principle! And that is perhaps why it's not ok, in some of us our little minds that athletes take a stand or BLM movement have meaning just not in the little minds of the people in power that can make the change!

  8. James Madison, August 31, 2020 at 4:23 p.m.

    Interesting. Instead of humbly learning a lesson and expressing a determination to change his views, Mr. Hansen decides to drop out of soccer.  Racism prevails over sport.

  9. Wooden Ships replied, August 31, 2020 at 4:42 p.m.

    James, I'm not siding with him or anyone, however the question remains. At what point does repentance occur? How long will it be before the social justice standard is met? I asked a few weeks ago of a long term SA poster, soccer lover and professor and fellow veteran, "how will we know when justice enlightenment has been reached and the protests/rioting can cease and desist?" His reply was along the lines of, when everyone learns. There are sure are a lot of people claiming to know another's heart. 

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