Saturday, January 22, 2022

Real Salt Lake purchased by new ownership group that includes Dwyane Wade; Utah Royals could make NWSL return

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USATSI

On Thursday, David Blitzer — who appears to be on a quest to own a sports team in every league — and Smith Ownership Group agreed to take over Real Salt Lake of Major League Soccer. RSL was originally put up for sale in September 2020 after owner Dell Loy Hanson stepped down following racist remarks. 

Blitzer currently has a stake in the Philadelphia 76ers, New Jersey Devils, Crystal Palace, FC Augsburg, Waasland-Beveren, and ADO Den Haag, and he is in the process of acquiring a large minority stake of MLB’s Cleveland Guardians. The purchase of Real Salt Lake also included the rights to the Utah Royals, a former NWSL team that moved to become the Kansas City Current last season.

“The combination of David Blitzer and Ryan Smith’s SEG form a dream partnership for Real Salt Lake,” MLS Commissioner Don Garber said in a statement. “David and Ryan’s teams have become synonymous with how athletics and community intersect, as they have demonstrated leading world-class organizations outside of professional soccer. Both understand the tremendous value that sports teams bring to a community, and they are deeply committed to Utah. This is a proven ownership group that brings resources and experience to elevate every aspect of the RSL organization.”  

Former NBA star Dwyane Wade is part of Real Salt Lake’s new ownership group. Wade also has an ownership stake in the Utah Jazz alongside Ryan Smith.

On Thursday, a statement was also released from the Utah Royals’ Twitter account.

Blitzer says that the Royals could be back soon. As of 2019, the plan for the NWSL was for the league to expand from nine teams to 14, but with COVID that plan didn’t come to fruition. 

The NWSL is currently at 12 teams for the 2022 season, so the Royals could be part of the league’s next round of expansion. 

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