Beginning in 2006, there will be another entertainment option for sports fans in northern Utah.
The Ogden Outlaws, a soccer team forged by owner Mike Hickman, will begin competing in the United Soccer Leagues' Premier Development League next spring.
After working on the project for more than a year, Hickman's dream finally became reality when the PDL recently approved plans for his team to begin competing in the amateur league in 2006.
"We finally pulled it off," said Hickman, whose side will play in the same division as BYU's club soccer team. "It was a huge relief. I didn't realize how much work it takes to get it done."
The Outlaws will play their home matches at Ogden's Lindquist Field, home to baseball's Ogden Raptors.
The PDL season spans from late April to early August, and each side will have 16 league games.
As it turned out, Hickman LLC, the entity that officially applied for membership in the PDL, presented its application for expansion after the league's deadline. However, PDL officials accepted the Outlaws' application because they'll be BYU's travel partner.
For now, the team won't have an official head coach.
Hickman wants to coach the team, but he won't assume that responsibility until he finds someone capable of taking over his administrative responsibilities. If he can't find someone, he'll likely continue as the team's GM and hire someone else as coach.
And as far as players are concerned, Hickman has started making contacts with collegiate players with Utah ties.
Ogden will hold open tryouts in February, and it's likely the core of the Outlaws' inaugural roster will be based on players gleaned from those tryouts.
Hickman will also be looking for other collegiate players with Utah ties that can't make it to tryouts, and he added he hopes to tap into the University of Redlands connection, which stemmed from several Utah Salt Ratz players who attended Redlands in California.
Throughout the process of putting together the franchise, one of Hickman's biggest priorities was to secure use of Lindquist Field.
With help from the city, Hickman managed to obtain the necessary permission. They'll be able to use the field anytime before the middle of June, and the Outlaws will work with the Ogden Raptors to schedule their remaining home games.
According to Hickman, Ogden City will help the Outlaws obtain a field of their own if they're successful at Lindquist Field.
"If we have success," said Hickman, "we'll be able to get something that's multipurpose in terms of soccer."
Making the team "successful" will revolve around three main priorities: Ticket sales, corporate sponsorship and youth-soccer camps run by the Ogden Outlaws.
Ogden will have eight PDL games each season and a handful of friendly matches. Hickman thinks the team can average somewhere between 1,500 to 2,000 fans each game.
Hickman has made contacts with lots of businesses, and he's waiting to hear back from them.
What he hears from the corporations will determine things like whether the team can fly or whether they'll have to drive to away matches.
"If I'm coaching the team," Hickman joked, "I'd prefer to fly as opposed to drive."
Hickman has been heavily involved on Utah's soccer scene for several years.
He coaches both of Bonneville High's soccer teams, and he led the now-defunct Utah Salt Ratz to the Men's Premier Soccer League title after taking over as coach back in 2003.
That team, however, became extinct when its owner, Ralph Hansen, was indicted and later convicted for embezzling.
Originally, Hickman tried to revive the Salt Ratz. Now, he's trying to extend that team's legacy with the Outlaws.
"The Ratz had the right idea," Hickman said of giving college-age Utahns the opportunity to play competitive soccer, "and I'm trying to continue that. It's important to me."
ENDLINES: Though still under construction, the team's Web site is operational. The address is www.ogdenoutlaws.com. You can also contact the team via e-mail at email@example.com. Additionally, inquiries to the team can be made by calling (801) 476-4276 . . . Ogden and BYU will compete in the Northwest Division.