The Utah Royals are returning to the NWSL as an expansion team in 2024

The Utah Royals are returning to the NWSL as an expansion team in 2024. league released on Saturday.

The club, which is the sister team of Major League Soccer Real Salt Lake, as well he shared the news on his own Twitter, revealing his coat of arms featuring a crowned lioness. The logo was designed by Philadelphia-based artist Tovah Kaiser and her all-female team.

“We are told that the lion is the king of the jungle, but the lioness is the real royalty,” reads the promotional video. “While everyone rests, she gets down to business. She’s quick and decisive, a fearless leader who’s powerful and expressive. Stronger with the power to persevere, this is the return of the royal family: a team that represents everyone, led by women empowering women. We are Utah Royals FC.”

Michelle Hyncik, former vice president of legal and general counsel for Real Salt Lake, will serve as president of the Royals. She has MLS front office experience and played soccer as a student athlete at Harvard University.

“As someone who credits his entire life to his home on the field, I will prioritize empowering our Utah Royals players and the young women and men who look up to them by providing them with state-of-the-art facilities, resources, staff, engagement, and opportunities to reach their full potential. potential,” Hyncik said in a statement. “I couldn’t be more proud to be a part of this Utah Soccer community and family as we bring world-class women’s soccer to Utah in 2024.”

History of the Utah Royals

The original Royals spent three seasons in Utah from 2018-2020 playing at Rio Tinto Stadium, now America First Credit Union Field, in Sandy, just outside of Salt Lake City. Despite not making the playoffs in his tenure, the club was very popular. According to Utah’s KSL Newsit was only one of two NWSL teams to average 10,000 or more fans per game, just behind the Portland Thorns.

In 2020, the team faced scrutiny when head coach Craig Harrington and assistant Louis Lancaster they were put on leave for verbally abusing and sexually courting players. Dell owner Loy Hansen was criticized for expressing disapproval of Real Salt Lake’s support for the racial justice movement. After being investigated for racist comments, he sold Utah Soccer Holdings — which consisted of the Royals, Real Salt Lake and the USL’s Real Monarchs — at the end of the year.

The Royals moved east in December 2020 and became the Kansas City Current, whose the ownership group includes Brittany and Patrick Mahomes.

In January 2022, Real Salt Lake transferred ownership to David Blitzer and Ryan Smith, who also co-owns the Utah Jazz. They said the Utah Royals’ comeback was always part of their plan.

Utah Royals FC defender Madeline Nolf (left) tackles OL Reign midfielder Shirley Cruz during the first half of the NWSL Challenge Cup match at Zions Bank Stadium on July 8, 2020.

“We said it was a matter of when, not if, the NWSL would return to Utah. This has always been an integral part of our mission. With today’s announcement, we are thrilled to deliver on the promise we made to our incredible fan base,” said Blitzer. “We are grateful for the opportunity to use our resources and platform to take women’s soccer to the next level, while inspiring future players and fans around the world.”

“We are excited to expand the ‘One Utah’ family and bring the Royals back to Utah,” said Smith. “Bringing professional women’s soccer back to the state has always been a top priority for David Blitzer and myself, and it’s very meaningful for us, the fans, our partners and the entire state.”

NWSL Expansion Teams

In July, the NWSL announced it was adding two expansion teams in 2024 and a third later. The other two cities are Boston and the San Francisco area Wall Street Journal reporting that the last two cities will pay a record $50 entrance fee. Utah paid a much lower price, between a reported $2 million and $5 million.

Commissioner Jessica Berman said access to reproductive rights and abortion would be considered when the city was assigned an expansion team after Roe v. Wade was overturned.

Abortion is legal in Utah up to the 18th week of pregnancy. The law that completely prohibits abortion is currently being reviewed.

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: The Utah Royals are returning to the NWSL as an expansion team in 2024

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