Behind the MLS Ambition Rankings: Real Salt Lake
• How much money has your team spent in the past five years on youth development? How much in the past year?
RSL has spent nearly $2 million in the last five years on the club's academy and youth development initiatives, with approximately $500,000 in last 12 months. These estimates do not include the $1 million spent last year to launch the club's USL side, Real Monarchs, which debuted in 2015.
The Salt Lake Tribune recently reported on a $40 million training facility in development to house RSL, the USL Monarchs and Utah-based U-18 and U-16 teams, likely to open in Fall 2017 . RSL owner Dell Loy Hansen has also publicly discussed creating five "regional training centers" at the cost of $2 million each across Utah, offering instruction to youth players in various communities to assist in their development and serve as a potential player identification mechanism for youth all-star teams and ultimately academy teams, as the pyramid grows in the next five years.
• How many homegrown players have you signed? How many have played in MLS league games for your first team?
RSL has signed 10 Homegrown Players players over the years (in order: Donnie Toia, Nico Muniz, Benji Lopez, Lalo Fernandez, Carlos Salcedo, Justen Glad, Jordan Allen, Phanuel Kavita, Sebastian Saucedo & Danilo Acosta). The five most recent signings (prior to Acosta in 2016) have played MLS games for our team, while Toia never played for us but has at Chivas USA and Montreal. Acosta should see action this season.
• Who pays to play on your youth teams? And how much do they pay?
The RSL Academy in Arizona does have U-16 and U-18 "B" teams which are essentially made up of kids who pay the Grande Sports Arizona for training and education.
• How many season-ticket holders do you have? How many did you have in 2015?
RSL will cut off season ticket sales on May 1, at which time we expect to be slightly over 15,000+ season ticket holders, roughly even with same juncture one year prior.
• Where does your first team train? Did you build the training facility yourself? If so, how much did it cost?
RSL's training field is located 0.6 miles away from Rio Tinto Stadium, and has been our practice home since 2011. The club spent approximately $750,000 to install and service the field on land leased from a corporate partner for $1/year.
• Do you have a model for integrating your academy with the first team? How closely do your academy teams resemble the way the first team trains and plays?
This is an ongoing opportunity as we expand from MLS to USL to the Academy teams. RSL GM Craig Waibel, head coach Jeff Cassar and Monarchs head coach Freddy Juarez work closely with Academy Executive Director Martin Vasquez and the Academy coaches, with weekly communication via phone calls, and quarterly visits of SLC-based coaches to Casa Grande and twice-yearly visits of the academy teams to Salt Lake for scrimmages and sessions with RSL/Monarchs personnel.
One of the constant themes from our players coming from Academy to Monarchs to RSL is that the transition is made easier because the sessions and philosophies top to bottom are exactly the same, enabling the guys to focus on the off-the-field stuff and adjusting to speed of play as they rise up the pyramid ...
• What’s your philosophy on the use of technology in your training and preparation for matches?
2016 will mark our 3rd season with extensive health, heart, sleep & nutrition monitoring for our players, along with recovery databases for each player. RSL has used ProZone and MatchAnalysis going on seven/eight seasons regarding the video review of games and breakdown to prepare for future opponents.
• Who is your jersey sponsor? What’s your total income on sponsorships this season?
RSL enters its 3rd year with LifeVantage as the jersey-front sponsor, reportedly a $2.5-3.0 million/year deal (initial contract five-year term). Total sponsor revenue (cash only, team does no trade deals) expected in the $12-13 million range for 2016.
• Local TV deal: How many of your games this season are shown on local television? How much is your local TV deal worth per season?
RSL will have its games on free, over-the-air TV for the 12th consecutive season, and the 2nd with its most recent partner, KMYU, an independent channel operated by the #1 news station and CBS affiliate KUTV . 32 of our 34 MLS games will be shown on KMYU in a 3-hour window (30-min pre and post-game shows around a 2-hour game window), with 2 games selected for FS1 (RSL will have 3 games on Univision Deportes/Unimas, but has been granted an exemption to show those national games locally on KMYU due to limited availability of UDN/Unimas in Utah).
KMYU's parent company pays 50% of production costs–approximately $20,000/game–and also airs a 30-minute Thursday night show with Brian Dunseth breaking down the upcoming weekend, entirely at their cost while providing another $500,000 in promotional support for RSL and Monarchs ticket sales and tune-in messaging
KMYU also shows USL Real Monarchs home games on either a live or tape-delayed basis, with those games earning respectable ratings. RSL games average a 3.5 local rating in the state of Utah, and are syndicated in Boise, Reno and Las Vegas, with pending agreements for Phoenix, Tucson and Albuquerque stations.
• Local radio deal: How many of your games this season are broadcast on local radio? In English? In other languages?
For the 12th consecutive season, all 34 RSL MLS games, as well as all additional CCL and Open Cup matches and any potential exhibitions, will air live via ESPN700 (English) and 102.3 FM/1600 AM (Spanish). Both flagships are tremendous promotional partners for RSL, with both stations also airing all home USL Monarchs games (barring RSL conflicts).
• How many front-office employees does your team have? How many have you added or subtracted in the past year?
RSL has approximately 75 full-time employees, level from 2015.
• Have you hired any additional technical staff over the past year to reduce doubling-up roles? Are you planning on expanding your technical staff in the near future?
With the addition of the USL Real Monarchs, RSL has added several new technical staff roles: Head Scout, USL Head Coach, USL Assistant Coach, USL Goalkeeper Coach, USL Head Athletic Trainer, USL Equipment Manager, as well as various administrative Soccer Operations/infrastructure roles designed to support both teams, as well as connect clubs with academy. We have ambitious plans to expand tech staff as RSL moves into training center, expands Utah academy and regional training centers are certainly afoot, with approximately eight new positions on the competitive side in next 12 months and close to 20 in the next 24 months.