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Report: Ryan Smith still the front-runner to buy Real Salt Lake

SHARE Report: Ryan Smith still the front-runner to buy Real Salt Lake

Ryan Smith, Qualtrics CEO and co-founder, speaks during the Qualtrics summit at the Salt Palace Convention Center in Salt Lake City on Wednesday, March 6, 2019.

Kristin Murphy, Deseret News

On the day Ryan Smith officially assumed majority ownership of the Utah Jazz, a report indicated that he’s still “likely” to also purchase Real Salt Lake.

In an episode of The Athletic’s podcast “Allocation Disorder” published Friday, Sam Stejskal (who used to work for RSL) said Smith is merely “waiting out” departing owner Dell Loy Hansen before buying the team. Multiple outlets have reported that Smith showed interest in buying it a few months ago before purchasing the Jazz, but meetings with Hansen did not go well.

Major League Soccer commissioner Don Garber said last week during his annual “State of the League” address that MLS will assume control of the sale of the team Jan. 8 if Hansen has not yet found a buyer for RSL.

“My expectation is that Smith will come into the process pretty quickly after Jan. 8 and potentially work out a deal,” Stejskal said Friday. “I don’t think MLS is going to have to do a ton of searching on that front, so I think that’ll happen pretty quickly.”

Smith, 42, bought the Jazz for $1.6 billion. RSL, along with the other properties of Utah Soccer Holdings that include Rio Tinto Stadium, the Real Salt Lake Academy and the Real Monarchs, are widely expected to be sold for somewhere between $400 and $500 million.

Hansen has already sold one portion of Utah Soccer Holdings, Utah Royals FC of the National Women’s Soccer League, and the franchise has relocated to Kansas City. A new owner does have the option of bringing back URFC as an expansion team in 2023, however.