The National Women’s Soccer League (NWSL) will be returning to Utah in 2024 after the league revealed the Utah Royals as the latest expansion team on Saturday.
The Royals were part of the NWSL from 2018 to 2020 and will be the league’s 13th team.
Major League Soccer’s (MLS) Real Salt Lake owners Ryan Smith and David Blitzer are part of the club’s ownership group. Blitzer’s Global Football Holdings own stakes in Premier League club Crystal Palace, Augsburg FC of the German Bundesliga, Portuguese club GD Estoril Praia and Waasland-Beveren of Belgian’s Challenger Pro League.
Blitzer is also part owner of the MLB’s Cleveland Guardians, NHL’s New Jersey Devils and the NBA’s Philadelphia 76ers. Smith is the owner of the NBA’s Utah Jazz.
“When we acquired Real Salt Lake last year, 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 fulfill the promise we made to our incredible fan base,” Blitzer said in a statement. “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 globally.”
Smith added, “We are excited to expand the ‘One Utah’ family and bring the Royals back to Utah. Having professional women’s soccer back in the state has always been a top priority for David Blitzer and myself, and is very meaningful to us, the fans, our partners, and the entire state.”
The club will play its home games at America First Credit Union Field, shared with Real Salt Lake.
“We are delighted to welcome Utah Royals FC and its dedicated fan base back into the league,” NWSL Commissioner Jessica Berman said in a statement. “The return of the women’s game to Utah, where soccer roots run deep, is a victory for players and fans alike. As the Royals begin this new chapter under the new ownership and leadership, I am confident the club will build a player-first organization equipped with the tools to thrive on and off the pitch.”