America First Field

Coordinates: 40°34′58″N 111°53′36″W / 40.5829°N 111.8934°W / 40.5829; -111.8934
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(Redirected from Rio Tinto Stadium)

America First Field
America First Field (then Rio Tinto Stadium), March 4, 2017
America First Field is located in Utah
America First Field
America First Field
Location in Utah
America First Field is located in the United States
America First Field
America First Field
Location in the United States
Former namesRio Tinto Stadium (2008–2022)
Address9256 South State Street
LocationSandy, Utah, U.S.
Coordinates40°34′58″N 111°53′36″W / 40.5829°N 111.8934°W / 40.5829; -111.8934
Elevation4,450 feet above sea level
Public transit TRAX Light Rail
 701  Blue Line
at Sandy Expo
Owner
OperatorReal Salt Lake
Capacity20,213[1]
Field size120 × 75 yards[2]
SurfaceKentucky Bluegrass
Construction
Broke groundAugust 12, 2006
OpenedOctober 9, 2008
Construction cost$110 million[3]
($150 million in 2022 dollars[4])
ArchitectRossetti Architects
Project managerICON Venue Group[5]
Structural engineerMartin & Associates[6]
Services engineerM-E Engineers, Inc.[6]
General contractorLayton-Turner Joint Venture[6]
Tenants
Real Salt Lake (MLS) (2008–present)
Utah Royals (NWSL) (2018–2020, 2024–preset)

America First Field (formerly Rio Tinto Stadium and referred to as The RioT) is an American soccer-specific stadium in Sandy, Utah, that serves as home stadium for Major League Soccer club Real Salt Lake and National Women's Soccer League club Utah Royals. The stadium opened on October 9, 2008, and seats 20,213 for soccer, but can be expanded to over 25,000 for concerts.[3]

The stadium hosted the 2009 MLS All-Star Game, the second leg of the 2011 CONCACAF Champions League Finals, and the final of the 2013 Lamar Hunt US Open Cup. It was also a host stadium during the 2013 CONCACAF Gold Cup, and a host for final stages of the 2015 CONCACAF Men's Olympic Qualifying Championship.

Rio Tinto's sponsorship of the stadium was set to expire in December of 2020 but retained its branding through 2021. Real Salt Lake sought a ten-year commitment from its next stadium naming rights partner.[7] On September 10, 2022, RSL announced a naming rights agreement with America First Credit Union, with the stadium subsequently renamed America First Field with immediate effect.[8]

Approval history[edit]

In 2005 a soccer-specific stadium for the team was approved for Sandy, a suburb of Salt Lake City. However, funding for the stadium was still hard to come by. A vote in early 2006 struck down a funding proposal for the stadium. However, Tom Dolan, the mayor of Sandy, said that he would not give up on his fight to approve the proposal in Sandy. The funding plan was revised, but was struck down later in 2006 over disagreements in the appropriation of millions of hotel-tax dollars for a financially unproven sports franchise. The proposal for Sandy was declared "dead" by Real Salt Lake owner Dave Checketts at that point, putting the team's future in doubt. Checketts said that he wanted the team to remain in Utah, but would sell it if a proposal was not put forward by August 12, 2006.

Parties from several cities, including Rochester, New York and St. Louis, Missouri, expressed interest in purchasing the franchise and moving it. Other stadium sites in the area were also proposed, including the Utah State Fairgrounds in Salt Lake City, and the tiny town of Vineyard, just west of Provo. Finally, on the very day Checketts had set as a deadline to have a stadium plan in place or decide to sell the team, and after months of up and down discussions with local municipalities, county, and state officials and a change in the funding structure, a tacit agreement between Checketts, Sandy City, and Salt Lake County was put in place, and Real Salt Lake announced that they would move forward with the construction of Real Salt Lake Stadium,[9] which would ultimately be named Rio Tinto Stadium. The groundbreaking, coinciding with the Xango Cup, Real's match against international power Real Madrid, took place that afternoon featuring elected leaders, team officials, as well as the entire rosters of both Real Salt Lake and Real Madrid. On August 15, the deal was officially approved by the Salt Lake County Council.[10]

America First Field sits at the base of the Wasatch Range

The stadium plan encountered difficulties however after the Debt Review Committee of Salt Lake County voted against the stadium proposal 4–0 on January 26, 2007, citing what they saw as Real Salt Lake's financial inviability as the reasoning behind the lack of support. County Mayor Corroon concurred with the DRC and the stadium plan was effectively killed on January 29, 2007. In response Real Salt Lake's owner announced the team would be sold and likely move out of the Salt Lake area after the 2007 season.[11]

The Sandy Stadium proposal was not completely dead, however: a new stadium proposal was made on February 2, that would divert 15 percent, roughly $2 million a year, of the county's hotel taxes to the stadium project beginning in July until 2017.[12] Such a deal would have to have been made by February 9, or the deal would have been completely off.[13] The bill was passed by the State Senate.[14]

After Governor Huntsman made a move that would allow the team to remain in Salt Lake County: the Utah House approved House bill 1SHB38, by a 48–24 margin, effectively approving $35 million towards the development of Real Salt Lake's new home. The governor was expected to sign the bill,[15] and ultimately did so.

Sandy City, along with the state of Utah and representatives of the team, finally came to an agreement regarding the placement of the Real stadium. The deal was shot down about a week prior to the agreement by the Salt Lake County Mayor Peter Corroon saying it was too risky. However, Utah's governor, Jon Huntsman Jr. said that soccer was here to stay. The $110 million stadium was built in Sandy, a suburb of Salt Lake City. Rossetti's California office was the architecture firm responsible for the design of the new stadium. The stadium's opening date was set for October 9, 2008, when Real Salt Lake hosted the New York Red Bulls.[16]

History[edit]

After considering sites in downtown Salt Lake City, Vineyard, and Provo, a soccer-specific stadium for Real Salt Lake was approved for the city of Sandy, a suburb of Salt Lake City, in late 2005; however, funding for the stadium was hard to come by. A vote in January 2006 struck down a funding proposal for the stadium, and the project was declared "dead" by owner Dave Checketts on January 29, putting the team's future in doubt. Parties from cities such as Rochester, New York, and St Louis, Missouri, expressed interest in purchasing the franchise and moving it, and Checketts announced that the team would likely be sold and moved out of the Salt Lake area by the end of the 2007 season.

In response to the rejection of the stadium plan, local construction company Anderson Geneva offered the club 30 acres (12 ha) of land on which to build the stadium just east of Interstate 15 in Sandy for free, at an estimated loss on the price of the land at US$10 million. The move prompted the club to make a new proposal to the Utah State Senate on February 2, 2006, in which 15% of the hotel taxes collected in Salt Lake County between July 2007 and 2017, equaling about US$2 million a year, would be diverted to the project. The bill was passed by the Senate, allowing for the club to announce the commencement of building what was then known as "RSL Stadium".

The groundbreaking of the stadium took place on August 12, 2006, featuring elected leaders of the state of Utah, as well as team officials and the rosters of both Real Salt Lake and Spanish club Real Madrid, who were due to play each other in a Xango Cup match a few days after the fact.

On September 28, 2008, it was announced that the naming rights to the stadium were sold to international mining company Rio Tinto, owners of local mining operation Kennecott Utah Copper. A 15-year deal was set into place, worth between $1.5 million and $2 million per year.[17] The stadium opened on October 9, 2008, in a Major League Soccer match between Real Salt Lake and the New York Red Bulls.

Use[edit]

Club soccer[edit]

Because the stadium was under construction throughout 2008 and did not open until late in the year, most of Real Salt Lake's 2008 season was spent in their original home at Rice-Eccles Stadium, on the grounds of the University of Utah in downtown Salt Lake City. The first match (and first event overall) held within the stadium was a Major League Soccer match between RSL and the New York Red Bulls on October 9, 2008, which ended in a 1–1 draw between the two in front of a then-sellout crowd of 20,008 people. A few weeks later, the stadium also played host to the first playoff game in RSL history against Chivas USA, in which the home side ended up winning 1–0 in front of another sellout crowd.

On July 29, 2009, the stadium played host to the 2009 Major League Soccer All-Star Game between a team of MLS All-Stars and Premier League side Everton. The game initially ended as a 1–1 tie, leading to a penalty shootout in which the English side emerged as champions. It was the first time that a foreign team had defeated the All-Stars since the creation of the game.

Throughout 2010 and 2011, the stadium became one of the toughest venues to play at in Major League Soccer, with Real Salt Lake having an undefeated streak of 34 games at home. At the time, it was the longest undefeated streak achieved by any team in MLS history; the record has since been broken by the Houston Dynamo, who won their 35th home game on April 14, 2013.

On April 27, 2011, the stadium played host to the second leg of the 2011 CONCACAF Champions League Finals between RSL and Liga MX club CF Monterrey, for the chance to represent the continent at the 2011 FIFA Club World Cup. The Mexican side ended up winning the game 1–0, and thanks to a 2–2 draw back in Mexico during the first leg, Monterrey were declared the champions on aggregate score.

The stadium hosted the final of the 2013 Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup between RSL and D.C. United on October 1, 2013, with the away side winning the cup 1–0 in front of over 17,000 spectators.

As home to the Utah Royals, America First Field also boasts hosting the second highest attendance in the NWSL, third highest of any professional women's team in America.[18][19]

In 2021, America First Field also hosted home matches for Vancouver Whitecaps FC as COVID-19 cross-border restrictions imposed by the Canadian government prevented the team from playing matches in Canada.[20] In January 2022, the stadium and Real Salt Lake were sold to David Blitzer and Ryan Smith.[21]

International soccer[edit]

Since the stadium opened its doors, it has become a very popular place for the United States men's national soccer team to play matches against regional opponents. The first match held by the team at the stadium took place on September 9, 2009, against El Salvador, in a fourth-round qualifier for the 2010 FIFA World Cup; the game ended in a 2–1 victory for the home side in front of 19,000 spectators.[22] The team returned to the stadium on June 18, 2013, in a fourth-round qualifier game for the 2014 FIFA World Cup against Honduras; the home side once again won at the stadium, this time a 1–0 victory in front of 20,250 people.[23]

The stadium was used as a host stadium during the 2013 CONCACAF Gold Cup, and hosted two back-to-back games for Group C on July 13, 2013.[24] In the first game, the United States defeated Cuba by a score of 4–1, while in the second, Costa Rica pulled out a 1–0 win against Belize; both games took place in front of a crowd of 17,597 spectators.[25]

On June 9, 2021, the USMNT defeated Costa Rica 4–0 in front of 19,007 fans at America First Field, in a friendly match played following the CONCACAF Nations League.

The United States women's national soccer team has also played three matches against international opponents at the stadium. The first game was played on March 31, 2010, as a friendly match against Mexico; in the first winter game ever played by the US team, the home side ended up winning the match 1–0, thanks to a second half goal by Abby Wambach.[26] The second game took place as another friendly match on June 30, 2012, against Canada; once again, the home side ended up winning the game, 2–1, in front of 16,800 spectators.[27] The third game was a friendly match on September 13, 2014, against Mexico; the home side ended up winning 8–0.[28]

Additionally, the stadium hosted the 4 knockout stage matches of the 2015 CONCACAF Men's Olympic Qualifying Championship.[29] These included a 2–0 Honduras victory over the United States and a 2–0 Mexico victory over Canada in the semifinals, then a 2–0 United States victory over Canada in the third place game and a 2–0 Mexico victory over Honduras in the final.

American football[edit]

Since 2011, the stadium has played host to the XFINITY High School Football Challenge, a series of games that pits local teams Alta and Jordan against opponents from across the country. In the 2013 edition, the Alta Hawks took on the Bergen Catholic Crusaders of New Jersey, while the Jordan Beetdiggers faced the Allentown Redbirds, also of New Jersey. This game was discontinued after the 2013 edition.

The stadium has also hosted the Zion's Bank Top of the Mountains Bowl, a bowl game of the NJCAA, since 2008. This game was discontinued after the 2011 edition.

Rugby[edit]

America First Field has been used on several occasions for rugby matches. The first rugby match in the stadium took place between college sides BYU and Utah in March 2010, and was also used as the site of the 2011 USA Rugby Championship, in which UC-Berkeley defeated BYU 21–14. The following year BYU faced Arkansas State University in the final, defeating them. In May 2014, the Varsity Cup Collegiate Rugby National Championship final match saw BYU defeat UC-Berkeley 43–33 in front of 10,172 fans.[30]

Utah Warriors played an exhibition game against Glendale Raptors at America First Field on March 30, 2018, ahead of their inaugural Major League Rugby season in front of 9,186 fans.[31][32] In September 2023 the stadium hosted the USA Eagles and Stade Toulouse, which the Eagles won 24–21.[33]

Concerts[edit]

Date Artist(s) Opening act(s) Tour Tickets sold Revenue Additional notes
May 9, 2009 The Eagles Michelle Branch Long Road Out of Eden Tour The first concert ever held at the stadium.[34]
July 13, 2010 Paul McCartney Up and Coming Tour 25,414 / 25,414 $3,193,716 This is the first time McCartney had ever done a show in the state of Utah.[35][36]
September 22, 2010 KISS The Hottest Show on Earth Tour This was the band's first show in the state in seven years.
July 21, 2011 Journey Foreigner
Night Ranger
Eclipse Tour
July 28, 2012 Neil Diamond
July 27, 2013 Jason Aldean Thomas Rhett
Jake Owen
2013 Night Train Tour

Attendance records (soccer)[edit]

Real Salt Lake games[edit]

As of October 8, 2023
Rank Date Game Result Attendance Notes
1 August 6, 2022 vs United States LAFC L 1-4 21,810
2 August 26, 2023 vs United States Houston Dynamo FC L 0–3 21,471
3 September 1, 2018 vs United States LA Galaxy W 6–2 21,363
4 October 10, 2022 vs United States Portland Timbers W 3–1 21,333
5 October 7, 2023 vs United States Sporting Kansas City L 2–3 21,205
6 September 19, 2015 vs United States LA Galaxy W 3–0 21,004
7 July 4, 2015 vs United States Orlando City SC D 1–1 20,956
8 March 2, 2016 vs Mexico Tigres UANL D 1–1 20,921 2015-16 CONCACAF Champions League
9 September 25, 2019 vs United States LA Galaxy L 1–2 20,838
10 July 24, 2015 vs United States Sporting Kansas City W 2–1 20,809

Utah Royals games[edit]

As of September 26, 2019
Rank Date Game Result Attendance Notes
1 April 14, 2018 vs United States Chicago Red Stars L 0–1 19,203 Inaugural home game
2 April 20, 2019 vs United States Washington Spirit W 1–0 18,015
3 May 3, 2019 vs United States Chicago Red Stars W 1–0 16,556
4 July 19, 2019 vs United States Portland Thorns FC D 2–2 15,931
5 September 8, 2018 vs United States Chicago Red Stars W 2–1 11,851
6 September 6, 2019 vs United States Portland Thorns FC W 1–0 10,897
7 July 27, 2019 vs United States North Carolina Courage L 1–2 10,545
8 May 11, 2019 vs United States Houston Dash L 1–2 10,138
9 September 21, 2019 vs United States North Carolina Courage L 0–1 9,946
10 October 12, 2019 vs United States Houston Dash W 2–1 9,513

International games[edit]

Men's[edit]

As of June 9, 2021
Rank Date Game Result Attendance Notes
1 September 4, 2015  Mexico vs  Trinidad and Tobago 3–3 20,560 Friendly match
2 June 18, 2013  United States vs  Honduras 1–0 20,250 2014 FIFA World Cup qualification – CONCACAF fourth round
3 September 5, 2009  United States vs  El Salvador 2–1 19,066 2010 FIFA World Cup qualification – CONCACAF fourth round
4 June 9, 2021  United States vs  Costa Rica 4–0 19,007 Friendly match
5 July 13, 2013  United States vs  Cuba 4–1 17,597 2013 CONCACAF Gold Cup Group C
 Costa Rica vs  Belize 1–0
6 June 3, 2017  United States vs  Venezuela 1–1 17,315 Friendly match

Women's[edit]

As of October 26, 2023
Rank Date Game Result Attendance Notes
1 June 30, 2012  United States vs  Canada 2–1 16,805 Friendly match
2 June 28, 2022  United States vs  Colombia 2–0 16,077 Friendly match
3 October 19, 2016  United States vs   Switzerland 4–0 14,336 Friendly match
4 June 7, 2018  United States vs  China 1–0 13,230 Friendly match
5 October 26, 2023  United States vs  Colombia 0–0 13,058 Friendly match
6 September 13, 2014  United States vs  Mexico 8–0 8,849 Friendly match
7 March 31, 2010  United States vs  Mexico 1–0 3,732 Friendly match

Sponsorship[edit]

On September 20, 2008, it was announced that the naming rights to the stadium would be awarded to international mining company Rio Tinto, the owners of the local Kennecott Utah Copper mining company and its Bingham Canyon Mine on the west side of the Salt Lake Valley. A 10-year naming deal was signed, valued at around $1.5 million to $2 million a year.[37] The stadium bore the Rio Tinto name even after its naming rights agreement with the company expired, until inking a new deal with America First Credit Union, already a sponsor of the club since its inaugural season.

Other major sponsors within the stadium include Maverik, Vivint, Budweiser, and Zions Bank.

Transportation[edit]

The stadium is located near the interchange between US Highway 89 (State Street) and Utah State Route 209 (9000 South), and is easily accessible from Interstate 15; however, parking near the stadium is very limited. The stadium is also accessible by light rail via the Blue Line of UTA TRAX; the nearest station is Sandy Expo on 9400 South.

See also[edit]


References[edit]

  1. ^ "Real Salt Lake 2012 Media Guide" (PDF). Major League Soccer. March 5, 2012. Archived from the original (PDF) on June 1, 2012. Retrieved June 11, 2015.
  2. ^ "Archived copy" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on August 28, 2012. Retrieved August 28, 2012.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  3. ^ a b "Rio Tinto Stadium – Stadium Facts". Archived from the original on April 20, 2012. Retrieved December 1, 2012.
  4. ^ 1634–1699: McCusker, J. J. (1997). How Much Is That in Real Money? A Historical Price Index for Use as a Deflator of Money Values in the Economy of the United States: Addenda et Corrigenda (PDF). American Antiquarian Society. 1700–1799: McCusker, J. J. (1992). How Much Is That in Real Money? A Historical Price Index for Use as a Deflator of Money Values in the Economy of the United States (PDF). American Antiquarian Society. 1800–present: Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis. "Consumer Price Index (estimate) 1800–". Retrieved May 28, 2023.
  5. ^ "Rio Tinto Stadium". iconvenue.com. Archived from the original on April 30, 2018. Retrieved July 26, 2015.
  6. ^ a b c "McGraw-Hill Construction - Intermountain Construction - Real Salt Lake Rio Tinto Stadium". Archived from the original on April 25, 2012. Retrieved October 5, 2011.
  7. ^ "Real Salt Lake hire Playfly as club seeks stadium naming rights partner". Retrieved January 12, 2022.
  8. ^ "America First Field is New Name for Real Salt Lake's Home | Real Salt Lake".
  9. ^ "Real Salt Lake joined by Real Madrid Saturday at 12:00 noon to break ground on Sandy stadium site". Major League Soccer. January 23, 2010. Retrieved June 9, 2015.
  10. ^ "Soccer Stadium Finally A ReALity". KUTV. Associated Press. August 15, 2006. Archived from the original on September 26, 2007. Retrieved June 13, 2015.
  11. ^ "KSL Newsradio: Soccer stadium deal is dead". Deseretnews.com. January 29, 2007. Retrieved December 3, 2011.
  12. ^ Jensen, Derek P. (February 2, 2007). "Stadium plan: It's ba-a-ack!". Salt Lake Tribune. Retrieved December 3, 2011.
  13. ^ "Stadium deal due by Friday—or else". Deseretnews.com. February 3, 2007. Retrieved December 3, 2011.
  14. ^ Walsh, Rebecca (February 6, 2007). "Senate paves way for a Sandy stadium". Salt Lake Tribune. Archived from the original on February 6, 2012. Retrieved December 3, 2011.
  15. ^ "Utah House approves stadium funds". Major League Soccer. January 23, 2010. Retrieved June 9, 2015.
  16. ^ "RSL confirms Oct. 9 stadium opening". The Salt Lake Tribune. August 5, 2008. Archived from the original on September 30, 2008. Retrieved August 5, 2008.
  17. ^ "Rio Tinto Gets Naming Rights to New Real Soccer Stadium". The Salt Lake Tribune. September 28, 2008. Retrieved September 28, 2008.
  18. ^ "Attendance Project: NWSL – kenn.com blog". Retrieved February 11, 2020.
  19. ^ "WNBA Turnstile Tracker: Attendance Down At End Of Regular Season". www.sportsbusinessdaily.com. Retrieved February 11, 2020.
  20. ^ "Vancouver Whitecaps FC to make Rio Tinto Stadium and Sandy home for start of 2021 season | Real Salt Lake".
  21. ^ RSL Communications. "David Blitzer & Smith Entertainment Group to Purchase Real Salt Lake". rsl.com. Retrieved July 30, 2023.
  22. ^ Michael Black (September 6, 2009). "Soccer: U.S. salvages win over El Salvador". DeseretNews.com. Retrieved July 26, 2015.
  23. ^ "2014 FIFA World Cup Brazil™". FIFA.com. Archived from the original on June 28, 2013. Retrieved July 26, 2015.
  24. ^ "Rio Tinto Stadium - US GOLD CUP". www.riotintostadium.com. Archived from the original on April 30, 2013.
  25. ^ "Gulf Daily News » Sports News » US and Costa Rica enter Gold Cup quarters". gulf-daily-news.com. Retrieved July 26, 2015.
  26. ^ "USA Defeats Mexico 1–0 in First Ever-Snow Game For WNT". ussoccer.com. Archived from the original on November 5, 2013. Retrieved July 26, 2015.
  27. ^ "U.S. Women's National Team Defeats Canada 2–1 in 2012 Olympic Send Off Match in Sandy, Utah". ussoccer.com. Archived from the original on November 11, 2013. Retrieved July 26, 2015.
  28. ^ "U.S. WNT Routs Mexico 8–0 as Hope Solo Earns Record 72nd Clean Sheet". ussoccer.com. Retrieved July 26, 2015.
  29. ^ "Rio Tinto Stadium chosen to host U-23 Olympic qualifying semifinal, final in October". Salt Lake Tribune. Retrieved September 20, 2015.
  30. ^ "BYU Claims 2014 Varsity Cup". Varsity Cup – Official Site. Retrieved July 26, 2015.
  31. ^ "March 30th home opener moved to Rio Tinto stadium".
  32. ^ "Warriors rugby is Utah's hottest new sport". KSL. Retrieved June 11, 2021.
  33. ^ "Wild and Exciting Encounter Sees USA Over Toulouse". Goff Rugby Report. Retrieved November 9, 2023.
  34. ^ "Eagles soar at Rio Tinto Stadium's first concert". Desert News. May 10, 2009. Retrieved May 23, 2018.
  35. ^ "PAUL MCCARTNEY TO MAKE FIRST-EVER UTAH APPEARANCE IN RIO TINTO STADIUM CONCERT ON TUESDAY, JULY 13". AEG Presents. May 17, 2010. Retrieved May 23, 2018.
  36. ^ "Sir Paul McCartney rocks Rio Tinto crowd". Deseret News. July 14, 2010. Retrieved May 23, 2018.
  37. ^ "Real Salt Lake, Rio Tinto Agree To Stadium Naming-Rights Deal". SportsBusiness Daily. September 29, 2008. Retrieved May 24, 2018.

External links[edit]

Preceded by Home of Real Salt Lake
2008–present
Succeeded by
current