January 24, 2013
By Charles Cuttone
TURNING THINGS OVER
Checketts sells stake in RSL
Real Salt Lake founder Dave Checketts has sold his controlling interest in the Major League Soccer team, Rio Tinto Stadium and ESPN/700 Sports Talk Radio to Utah real estate developer Dell Loy Hansen.
Hansen has been a minority partner in the team since 2009. The transaction – also involving other minority partners – was recently approved by the Major League Soccer Board of Governors. Terms were not disclosed, by agreement of both parties.
Checketts is apparently selling his interest in the team to concentrate on his role as Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Legends Hospitality Management, in which his Checketts Partners Investment Fund is a partner along with the New York Yankees, Dallas Cowboys and Goldman Sachs.
“We created something from nothing," said Checketts, who also in the past year sold his interest in the St. Louis Blues of the National Hockey League. "There was no RSL; there was no shield; we created something from nothing. Now, I have to say that it is time to turn all of that over to a very capable local owner. And as I do that there are many people to thank. It took a real village here to build this all up."
Checketts began his sports career with the Utah Jazz, before becoming President of The New York Knicks and Madison Square Garden Corp. In his four seasons as president, the Knicks made it to the Eastern Conference Finals three times and went to the NBA Finals in 1994.
Hansen, President of Wasatch Property Management, Inc., is a lifelong Utah resident. Under former Utah Governor Michael Leavitt, Hansen served nine years on the State’s Board of the Department of Business and Economic Development, two of those years as Chairman.
Hansen founded Wasatch Property Management, Inc. in 1988 and has served as the company’s President since its inception, with corporate headquarters located in Logan, Utah. Wasatch currently has approximately 600 employees, managing 52 multi-family residential communities with approximately 12,000 apartment units, 5 condominium developments, and 20 commercial buildings with 2.4 million of rental square footage throughout the western United States. Wasatch and its affiliated investor-owned entities maintain a real estate portfolio in excess of $1.2 billion.
“This is a huge challenge and Dave is an impossible act to follow," said Hansen. “Dave and I are aware that his vision was ahead of its time. He built a stadium that was too visionary, this was too much, it’s too good and he got less public support [than other cities.] So making up those shortfalls was where he invited me to come in. This was a baby that he had born. And when the pain of trying to carry the financial burden was so great, he invited me to come in and help do that. He has been very gracious to me through this entire process, he is remarkably good at managing sports teams and we formed a good team.”
Hansen is also an owner in nearly a dozen venture companies, with approximately 900 employees located across Utah, Idaho and California. The companies range from a recycling and waste disposal company in Sacramento, California; several sports clubs throughout Utah and Idaho, a plastic injection & molding company, wood milling company and a golf course in Utah; and one of the largest utility management and billing companies in the United States.
Checketts founded Real Salt Lake in 2004, the first of a group of expansion teams that has nearly doubled the size of the league.
“The last eight years have been a labor of love,” said Checketts. “When we started I made a promise to build something of meaning; something that people in my home state of Utah could be proud of.
“Real Salt Lake has become much more than a soccer team, and Rio Tinto Stadium much more than a venue. Each has become integrally woven into the fabric of this community and become beloved assets to the people here. It is a legacy that I will forever take pride in, and I am happy to leave it in local hands. I know that Dell Loy will be a tremendous caretaker for the Team, the Stadium and all that both represent.”