Utah Royals expansion fee a cut-rate $2-5m, 2024 return planned
A $2–5m NWSL expansion fee was arranged "a few years ago," according to the Wall Street Journal.
When the Utah Royals shuttered at the end of 2020 and returned to Kansas City, there remained a widespread hope that the team would be back.
Confirmation has come at various times over the last year following the purchase of Real Salt Lake by a group led by David Blitzer and Ryan Smith, including the day of the announcement. A report from Andy Larsen of the Salt Lake Tribune made that clear, with this quote from Blitzer particularly relevant:
I think the best way to say is that's from our perspective, that's a function of when, not if. We're at day one, but this has been an important item that Ryan and I have talked about a lot, and we're very excited to bring an NWSL team back to this marketplace.
The initial move of the club to Kansas City following the sale of Utah Soccer, LLC by Dell Loy Hansen came attached with a condition: A new ownership group could establish an NWSL franchise as early as 2023 in Utah.
2023 is too early, but news that a Utah NWSL team would join NWSL in 2024 started emerging in June, and that's been bolstered again by a Wall Street Journal article published on Friday.
Utah's expansion fee sits at a range that's between four and 10 percent of the current fee, with San Francisco and Boston teams each paying what the Journal estimated is around $50 million. That fee would almost certainly have been established in 2020, when Angel City FC and San Diego Wave paid a similar $2m–5m fee.
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