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Utah-based developer may buy RSL share

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SANDY — SCP Worldwide Chairman Dave Checketts is in "advanced" talks with Utah real estate developer Dell Loy Hansen about selling 49 percent ownership of Real Salt Lake.

The deal has not been finalized, but Hansen said "there is a deal in principle." It still needs approval from the FCC, Major League Soccer and lenders.

Last week, Hansen joined Checketts in Columbus, Ohio, to watch Real Salt Lake's playoff victory over Columbus. Hansen also accompanied Checketts into the locker room after the match to congratulate the team.

Hansen is president of Wasatch Property Management Inc., and Checketts believes Hansen's experience will be a great asset for the franchise.

"(Checketts) hasn't been any more passionate about the team and stadium then he is now, and he truly, emphatically thinks (this deal) will help strengthen the team more than it is now," said Eric Gelfand, an SCP Worldwide spokesman.

Wasatch Property Management Inc.'s portfolio contains commercial and residential properties in Salt Lake City, Ogden and Logan, as well as Scottsdale, Ariz.; and Bellevue, Wash. Its properties in Salt Lake City include the Wells Fargo Tower, Ken Garff Building and the Chase Building. According to some reports, the real estate portfolio of Hansen's company is valued at $1.2 billion.

Gelfand declined comment on the sale price, but MLS expansion franchises are valued at $40 million, and Rio Tinto Stadium was recently constructed at a cost of $110 million to SCP Worldwide.

"We're just looking forward to finishing the approvals," said Hansen, who declined to elaborate further on the deal until it's finalized, though he did add, "Go, Real. Let's win the MLS Cup."

Real Salt Lake faces Chicago on Saturday in an MLS conference final playoff match.

Selling a minority interest to a local owner is something with which Checketts has experience. When he bought the NHL's St. Louis Blues in 2006, Checketts immediately sought out a local owner. He eventually sold a minority stake to Tom Stillman, and Checketts believes that helped strengthen the local ties for the Blues franchise. And he's hoping for similar results in Utah.

"We thought we'd try to work off of that template here," Gelfand said. "If (the deal) happens, it will work out pretty much the same way."

Sandy Mayor Tom Dolan said city officials have been aware of the proposed purchase and are excited about the potential of having a local owner.

"This is very positive for the team," Dolan said Tuesday night.

In an article published in The Enterprise newspaper last week about the potential sale, Hansen said he hopes to use his real estate properties to expand the Real Salt Lake brand.

His extensive real estate development background could also help Real Salt Lake develop the land adjacent to Rio Tinto Stadium when the economy turns around.

Gelfand said Checketts' interest in selling a portion of Real Salt Lake has nothing to do with increasing his cash flow in an effort to purchase the NFL's St. Louis Rams.

Hansen developed the 120,000-square-foot Sports Academy and Racquet Club in Logan several years ago. His 17-year-old daughter plays soccer and played in a high school match at Rio Tinto Stadium earlier this year.

"We have just developed kind of a family passion around the sport," Hansen said.

e-mail: jedward@desnews.com, rpalmer@desnews.com