The Utah Royals are officially returning to the NWSL.
The league, Smith Entertainment Group, and Global Football Holdings announced that the team will begin play in 2024 as the league’s 13th team — four years after it was acquired and moved to Kansas City to become the Current.
When the team moved, its MLS counterpart Real Salt Lake kept the rights to the team name and branding with the ability of bringing it back in 2023 or 2024 for a predetermined fee, reported to be between $2 million to $5 million.
David Blitzer, co-founder of Harris Blitzer Sports & Entertainment, and Smith Ownership Group purchased Real Salt Lake last year for a reported $400 million. Blitzer said “it was a matter of when, not if, the NWSL would return to Utah.”
The Royals will return to America First Credit Union Field, which is shared with Real Salt Lake. America First Credit Union was also announced as the Royals’ front-jersey partner.
Other investors in the club are 42 Futbol Group and five “business leaders” including Jessica Gelman, Kraft Analytics Group CEO and co-founder of the MIT Sloan Sports Analytics Conference.
In January, the Wall Street Journal reported that the league was in the late stages of discussions to also add teams in San Francisco and Boston, with the former launching after 2024. The entrance fees are expected to be around $50 million each.