Rio Tinto Stadium turns ten years old this October and recently underwent a major change: bringing in an NWSL team.
RSL owner Dell Loy Hansen always wanted to bring a top division womens team to Utah, but didn’t expect the opportunity to arise so quickly. In an offseason that saw the opening of Zions Bank Real Academy, the unexpected folding of FC Kansas City allowed for the creation of the Royals.
As ZBRA opened, one of the main questions asked was, “what about the Royals?” The organization answered with a world class locker room and facilities that match what Dell Loy has built in Herriman. The scale may be smaller, but with fewer players to account for (the training facilities at the ZBRA are meant to accommodate both RSL and the Monarchs), the setup may be better than anything in the NWSL.
The sense you get when you walk into the locker room is that it’s top class. It doesn’t have the high ceilings and windows of the RSL lockers at ZBRA, but there are many niceties that are specific to this team. Instead of being an open shower set up, there are individual showers (see picture 5). There is much more mirror space for doing hair and makeup that a mens team may not need. The lockers themselves are almost exactly the same as at ZBRA for the RSL and Monarchs lockers. The lounge is a bit nicer than the lounges in Herriman, but they’ll also be using this space to watch game film, so sadly no mini-theater at Rio Tinto.
The concern many had was treating the NWSL side as an afterthought. The team was announced a matter of months ago and with ZBRA nearly completed at that point, it seemed obvious that their home wouldn’t be there. What’s been built at Rio Tinto is a great way to solve the issue of where is the home of the Royals and how do they receive the same world-class amenities that RSL has. Once again, Dell Loy Hansen comes up big for soccer in Utah.