Bill Manning, who was recently named president of Real Salt Lake, said his measure of success for his team would be operating a profitable franchise that is a winner on the field.
Manning on Monday met with the Deseret News editorial board to answer questions about the current state of the team and the status of the $110 million Real Salt Lake stadium, slated to open this fall in Sandy. He said he would like to start with a "clean slate going forward" and hopes Utahns will not hold the lingering controversy over the stadium's funding against him.
"I wasn't here when all the shenanigans or whatever you want to call it were going on and how the stadium got funded," he said. "But it is funded now, so what I want to do is want to try to make it a great facility for the community and a great facility for us."
When completed, he said the venue would seat 20,056 fans for soccer and up to 25,000 for concerts and other events. He said the stadium is about 75 percent completed right now.
"Ideally, we'll have our last two games in the new stadium and hopefully a playoff game," he said.
He said currently only the Los Angeles Galaxy, of 14 current MLS franchises, has been profitable thus far, but that could be changing soon. He added that he hoped to have RSL "in the black" in the next couple of years.
The team is seeking a long-term naming-rights deal in the neighborhood of the average price among the most recent Major League Soccer teams that have built soccer-specific stadiums around $1.6 million, he said. But he would be willing to strike a deal that would provide long-term stability for the franchise even if it were for a bit less money.
Before coming to RSL, Manning was vice president of sales and service with the Philadelphia Eagles of the National Football League. He also has been an executive with the Houston Rockets of the National Basketball Association as well as in Major League Soccer, the United Soccer Leagues and the Continental Indoor Soccer League.
Among some of the creative ideas Manning said RSL has to enhance its brand among the area's sports franchises is to develop its own recipe for fry sauce sold at home games.
In addition, Manning said he would like to market the team to a larger fan base, by targeting the Salt Lake Valley's growing soccer-hungry Latino population. He also wants to align the team with "American Idol" finalist David Archuleta."We've already reached out to him," he said. "I'm sure there will be a price tag associated with it, but I want him to open the new building. I want him to sing the national anthem when we have our first game there."
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