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Real Salt Lake announced plans Saturday to compete with FC Barcelona. Well, at least in terms of the Spanish giant's extensive training resources and youth team.
RSL owner Dell Loy Hansen unveiled plans to build a $50 million soccer complex in Herriman before the team's match against the Colorado Rapids.
The 42-acre complex, set to open in fall 2017, will feature eight fields and house training for Real Salt Lake, Real Monarchs and extensions of the club's Arizona-based academy teams.
Hansen said the team wants to have facilities "equal to anything in Europe."
"We've decided instead of taking baby steps, let's just take the big step and get there," Hansen said.
Plans for $2 million regional training centers were also announced as part of a new nonprofit called the RSL Youth Academy Foundation, with planned locations in Logan, Ogden and West Valley City. Future sites will include St. George, Orem and possibly locations in Arizona.
RSL general manager Craig Waibel said the team took six trips around the nation and world to find clubs to model this complex and system after.
"We'll be able to train guys at higher levels throughout the course of time," Waibel said. "Of course that has an impact on the overall performance level and technical ability of our players."
Waibel said the team still intends to develop its presence in both Utah and Arizona, but that over time the epicenter of RSL activity will shift from the team's current academy in Casa Grande, Ariz. to Herriman.
The new complex will also feature enhancements to Herriman City itself, including a 77,000 foot, 250-student science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) charter school. One of the aforementioned eight fields will be for public use.
Residential and commercial development is planned adjacent to the complex, with projections to add 400 new homes, 600 apartment units and 32 acres of mix-used zoning.
Herriman city council member Craig Tischner said along with RSL, the city hopes to import new hotels and restaurants.
"It really is a creating jobs," Herriman City Council member Craig Tischner said. "That's something that's really going to stimulate Herriman City's economy."
Groundbreaking is to begin within 30 to 45 days, with a projected opening in August 2017 for academy usage. The facility will be fully operational by the 2018 MLS season.
"We're looking for that Herriman [Lionel] Messi," Hansen said.