MLS approves sale of Real Salt Lake to NBA owners
Written by on January 6, 2022
January 7, 2022
Major League Soccer’s board of governors unanimously approved the sale of Real Salt Lake to the owners of the Utah Jazz and Philadelphia 76ers on Thursday.
Ryan Smith’s Smith Entertainment Group, in alliance with David Blitzer, also will take ownership of Rio Tinto Stadium, Zions Bank Training Center and RSL Academy in Herriman, Utah.
Smith owns the Jazz, and Blitzer is a co-owner of the Philadelphia 76ers and New Jersey Devils.
While financial terms were not announced, Sportico reported the sale price was nearly $400 million.
Former NBA star Dwyane Wade also joined the RSL ownership group, announcing his involvement in a Twitter post. Wade’s stake in the RSL deal was not reported.
“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 news release. “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.”
Blitzer will serve as governor for Real Salt Lake with Smith filling the alternate governor role.
Blitzer also has an ownership stake in the English Premier League and German Bundesliga, as well as Prudential Center in Newark, N.J.
“David Blitzer is the perfect partner,” said Smith, who bought the Jazz in 2020 for $1.66 billion. “David has world-class soccer experience, is a person of integrity, and has a strong commitment to elevate the organizations and communities he is invested in.”
Blitzer and SEG become the third ownership in the team’s 17-year history.
The most recent owner, Dell Loy Hansen, put the team up for sale after controversy swirled around comments he made regarding Real Salt Lake players declining to play after the police shooting of Jacob Blake in Wisconsin in August 2020. Hansen also later was accused of making racist remarks and leading a toxic workplace.
Real Salt Lake begins the 2022 season on Feb. 27 at the Houston Dynamo FC. The club was 14-14-6 (48 points) in 2021 and advanced to the Western Conference final of the MLS Cup as a No. 7 seed, losing 2-0 to the Portland Timbers.
–Field Level Media