More than a decade after professional soccer left Utah, a new professional soccer franchise may begin play in 1989.
A group called the Utah Soccer Alliance announced at a Thursday morning press conference that Salt Lake has a good chance of being awarded a franchise in an established outdoor soccer league.The new team would play approximately 12 to 14 home games, including a couple of games against international competition. The season would run from April to July.
The new Salt Lake franchise would be part of the Western Soccer Alliance, a league that includes teams in Seattle, San Diego, Los Angeles, Hollywood, Portland, San Jose and a new one in Arizona. The league has been in existence for four years.
"I believe there's a 99 percent chance that we'll be playing in Salt Lake next year, said Tony Escobar, an advisory board member of the Utah Soccer Alliance.
Others on the advisory board include former Salt Lake mayor and gubernatorial candidate Ted Wilson, KSL general station manager William Murdock, BYU soccer coach David Woolley and Mehdi Ghazal, a former captain of the Iranian National Team.
Several members of the advisory board are headed to Los Angeles Thursday night to meet with officials of the Western Soccer Alliance. The owners of the other teams still need to evaluate and approve the new team in Salt Lake. That decision is expected sometime in December.
There are still a few roadblocks. Diana Voorhees, the secretary of the Utah Soccer Alliance, admits that they are still negotiating on funding for the franchise. And the new team doesn't have a place to play yet. According to Escobar, there are five sites under consideration. Among the sites being looked at are Hillcrest High School, Highland High and the University of Utah's Rice Stadium, but eventually the team would like its own field.
The franchise will be a non-profit organization. The team would be composed of no more than two foreign players and will have a salary cap.
Escobar also said no nickname has been chosen and that a contest would likely be held to determine the team's nickname.
The last time professional soccer was in the state was in 1976 and 1977 when the Salt Lake Golden Spikers played in the American Soccer League.