Real Madrid passes on Park City stay |

Real Madrid passes on Park City stay

When you’re a team of international superstars, you get to change your mind.

In Utah for its exhibition match against Real Salt Lake, soccer powerhouse Real Madrid had planned to stay in Park City, much like the Chicago Bulls did during their NBA championship visit to Utah in 1997, but the itinerary changed, however, with the late addition to their schedule of last Wednesday’s match against D.C. United in Seattle, which ended in a 1-1 draw.

The team arrived in Salt Lake on Monday and, according to RSL spokesperson Trino Martinez, players had planned to make Park City their home base, but last minute schedule changes forced them to stay in Salt Lake City.

Had the game in Seattle not been scheduled, it would have likely meant Real Madrid and international stars like David Beckham, Roberto Carlos and Raul, who are on the team, would have spent the week in practicing and preparing in Park City.

Craig McCarthy, spokesperson for the Park City Chamber/Bureau, said having Real Madrid stay and practice in Park City would have been a great marketing opportunity.

"It’s always publicity for us to have an organization like that in Park City," he said. "It brings media up to watch practice and anytime you can get someone like that up here it’s a pretty neat thing, but it didn’t happen this time. We’ll just take the next one."

Practices were held all week at Rice-Eccles Stadium, where crews finished installing more than 94,000 square feet of sod at was finished Monday morning. Real Madrid, which is a nine-time European and 29-time Spanish league champion, has been practicing on the new grass.

RSL General Manager Steve Pastorino said he would have liked to have seen Real Madrid stay in Park City, but the timing was off.

"I felt it would be very attractive for them and for us to have them in Park City, but then we were informed that they were only going to be here for a few days because of the game in Seattle, so we moved the reservations to Salt Lake City," he said. "And then, right before they arrived, they called and said they would be here for a week after all, but by that point it was a little too late."

Pastorino said Park City was the first choice for Real Madrid’s home base because it offered peace and quiet, numerous restaurants, great playing fields at Trailside Park and a high altitude, which would have benefited Real Madrid’s pre-season training. But he said it’s those same reasons that keep Park City in the running for future considerations.

"Park City keeps coming up in conversations with international clubs about possible facilities to stay at if they came here," Pastorino said. "I think Park City is a world-class destination and I think and we could really benefit by taking advantage of it in the summer."

The RSL-Real Madrid match starts Saturday at 7:30 p.m. at Rice-Eccles Stadium in Salt Lake City. Tickets are still available.

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