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Hansen couldn’t resist Real Salt Lake — and cacciatore

Utah developer says he has ‘tons of plans’ as partial owner of Real

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SANDY — It all started with politics and chicken cacciatore.

It wasn't a well-kept secret, but it became official when SCP World Wide announced Wednesday afternoon at Rio Tinto Stadium that Dell Loy Hansen, the president of Wasatch Property Management, was becoming a partner in owning Real Salt Lake.

While financial details of the deal were not disclosed, SCP Worldwide chairman Dave Checketts confirmed that the previously announced 49 percent ownership number "is pretty close."

As for how Hansen came into the pro franchise ownership fraternity, those details became clearer.

It all began when Hansen was invited to a political fundraiser for Sandy Mayor Tom Dolan at the U.S. World Cup Qualifying game against El Salvador in September at Rio Tinto Stadium. Checketts was looking for a new partner and was discussing the issue with another guest, former Disney CEO Michael Eisner.

"I was talking to Eisner to see if he was interested in spending a lot more time here (Utah), and Dell Loy said, 'Well, what about me?' And I said, 'You want to talk about it? We'll talk about it,' " said Checketts. "It actually turned out better because he is a local guy. He's the perfect partner. … It is not easy to find somebody to be a partner in this state that understands it, so I think he will be a great partner."

Until that moment, becoming an owner was not in Hansen's long-term ambitions.

"It was pretty spontaneous," said Hansen. "It wasn't a really well-thought-out plan. I was sitting there having more fun, and the food was really good. I was so impressed with the food — the chicken cacciatore was to die for. I thought, 'I could come and have that every game.' So that might have had something to do with it. For a round guy like me, the food is important.

"But I was looking for something where I could bring my family together naturally. So now I have a box and they can come to any game and show up, and without sending out a lot of e-mails, we are all there together. So for me it is a long-term way for me to be together with my family."

Now that Hansen and his financial backing are onboard, Real can plan on some upgrades.

"There are a lot of things we are doing with the money," said Checketts. "It is all staying in the club. We are substantially paying down some debt, and then putting working capital to work on finishing a few things around the stadium, and then a first-class practice facility. … One thing I have is tons of plans."

Checketts said he would like to get the club a practice facility closer to Rio Tinto instead of in Lehi at Xango Field. As for Hansen, he plans to be in Seattle on Sunday for Real's first appearance in the MLS Cup against the Los Angeles Galaxy at Qwest Field.

"It's a Cinderella story," added Hansen of the team's run to the MLS title game. "I've just fallen in love with this team. They are the little engine that nobody bet on, and you don't get all that many Cinderella stories. It is usually the Goliaths. The Yankees or some mammoth team with the huge payroll. … You just have to have your heart go out to them as hard as they play."

e-mail: mblack@desnews.com