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Rio Tinto Stadium

Sandy, UT

Home of the Real Salt Lake

3.7

3.7

Rio Tinto Stadium (map it)
9256 South State
Sandy, UT 84070


Real Salt Lake website

Rio Tinto Stadium website

Year Opened: 2008

Capacity: 20,213

There are no tickets available at this time.

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Pro Soccer Experience is Special and Very REAL in SALT LAKE

In 2008 pro soccer arrived on the sports scene in Salt Lake City, since this time fans have embraced them. The city has been treated to a special atmosphere, one which has delivered two Cup Final appearances and one Championship, in 2009.

A visit to Rio Tinto Stadium combines in excess of 20,000 fans with a fervent and respectful atmosphere where fun and excitement are ever-present from the moment you step into the stadium. Cleverly positioned events on site at pre-game, a magnificent backdrop on both the east and west sides, and a stadium built where each seat is right on top of the pitch provides an atmosphere that is special and memorable.

3.7

What is FANFARE?

The FANFARE scale is our metric device for rating each stadium experience. It covers the following:

  • Food & Beverage
  • Atmosphere
  • Neighborhood
  • Fans
  • Access
  • Return on Investment
  • Extras

Each area is rated from 0 to 5 stars with 5 being the best. The overall composite score is the "FANFARE Score".

Food & Beverage    4

There are plenty of choices at Rio Tinto Stadium and the best might be exclusively through a pre-game buffet / ticket combo at $50. On the east side of the stadium in a secured area, you can enjoy a ticket to the game and a pre-game buffet that includes award-winning BBQ and several food trucks. The area is called the America First Credit Union Pavilion, the only drawback is the food is available only up until game time.

For those choosing what to eat on the inside, the choices are endless and a fair amount of it is unique.

Four Corner's Smokehouse is on the west side of the stadium and serves several meat options. Maverik Bonfire Grill is at the northeast end in front of the wide concourse and serves a pastrami burger, a nice twist on things (see gallery, hope you can see the pastrami on it). Served with fries, it is $10.

There is also a Mexican option with four locations, two on the west side, one on the north side and one on the east side, each with plates from $7 to $12. While other food options in the stadium include a beer cheese brat $8, jumbo hot dog $7 and a pizza slice $8. A souvenir popcorn tub $7, nachos $5 and pretzels $5.25. Add jalapenos or cheese for $1 each.

As for beverage options draft beer (Bud Light and related products) in a souvenir cup are $10.25, while large draft of a domestic or premium is $9.25 and a regular size of domestic or premium is $6.75. As for soft drinks options Pepsi products in bottles are available for $4.75 while bottled water is $4.

Atmosphere    4

Start with the backdrop of the mountains, the closest of the two ranges being east of the stadium while the others are a little farther from the stadium to the west and they are breathtaking. The stadium footprint is well-utilized and the build-up begins two hours before game time (gates open 90 minutes prior to kick-off).

Enjoy Carnival Real, filled with activities, games and giveaways for all fans to enjoy. The East lawn is beautiful and is packed with people enjoying an array of activities as the build to the game approaches. Enjoy a game that resembles miniature golf, but with a soccer ball and you kick it through the obstacles and into the hole in the ground at the end of each "hole". Get your photo taken with a unique backdrop, sample new food and drink products and all-in-all, enjoy the fun with your soccer brethren.

The east side is the main entrance and the team shop is in the northern section with the the America First Credit Union Pavilion is on the South end of. The seating area is a horseshoe, in that it is not a complete walk-around concourse. The south end, where the larger of the two scoreboards appears, is the break in the walk-around. As you choose where to sit, consider some important elements. The team benches are on the west side line, Real Salt Lake directly in front of sections 20 & 21 north of the center line while the visitors are directly in front of sections 17 & 18. The teams enter the field in front of section 19 at the center line.

If you attend an evening game you may want to avoid the east side of the stadium. Ignoring this will have you shading your face from the sun for over half the game. (see gallery photo of the multiple sections doing this, hilarious).

Section 26 in the northwest corner has a group which stands the entire game and hold tickets to specific rows and seats. Section 9 (Salt Lake City United and RCB) and section 10 (Riot Brigade and LaBarra Real Suites are on the west side of the field and there are several open-air tables suite areas near the southwest corner of the stadium which are adjacent to Budweiser Zone, a private area with open bar and indoor dining.

The team sells out nearly every game and the secondary market offers tickets in various areas from $20 to $90. Once you select your seat, make sure to arrive at least 30 minutes prior to game time so you can soak in the atmosphere as the chanting starts. The public address announcer takes care of the home team by player number and first name while the 20,000-strong crowd completes the task with a scram in unison of the player's last name. It is loud and powerful.

Leonardo the Lion, the regal and majestic team mascot, enters the pitch with large flag high above his head from the southwest corner, near section 12. He passes the Goal Gong (also a neat feature) and meets the teams on the field at the center line. The crowd is roaring as Leo whips them into a frenzied state.

Neighborhood    2

Rio Tinto Stadium is in a mixed use area of Sandy, Utah. There are homes, hotels, government offices, industrial businesses, some retail, a movie theatre and some restaurants across the street to the east but not much for fans of the team to enjoy.

Rio Tinto Stadium is in a mixed use area of Sandy, Utah. There are homes, hotels, government offices, industrial businesses, some retail, a movie theatre and some restaurants across the street to the east but not much for fans of the team to enjoy.

Fans    4

Real Salt Lake fans are wild about their team and are encouraged to bring banners and signs to help express their love for the team. Great success since their inception with two MLS Cup appearances, one resulting in a championship in 2009, has fueled near capacity crowds for every match at Rio Tinto Stadium.

While the 20,000 strong on any given night are attentive to the ebb and flow of the game and responsive to the play on the field, there are several groups which take the experience to a whole different level. Consider sitting close to these groups if their identity appeals to you. On the south end, section 9 (Salt City United and RCB), section 10 (Riot Brigade) and section 11 (La Barra Real) are general admission where the loudest and most ardent groups gather with their drums and chants. These are the only officially-recognized supporters groups for Real Salt Lake at Rio Tinto Stadium. The family section is in the northwest corner in section 24 and there is no alcohol allowed here.

Once game time arrives and the starting line-ups are announced, it is the fans that take on a role in this duty. While the public address announcer helps with the uniform number and player first name, the fans, in unison, complete the task by screaming the player's last name.

Access    3

Located just east of Highway 80 at 9400 S street, Rio Tinto Stadium is pretty easy to get to by car. Street parking is available, but only in certain areas. Watch the signs, particularly for areas designated "resident parking". Parking lots will run you $5 however lots not reserved for season ticket holders with parking passes are hard to come by.

There is the TRAX light rail train offering a convenient way to get to the stadium. At $2.50 each way, the nearest station is just two blocks east at the Sandy Expo Station.

Return on Investment    4

Tickets for the 2016 season run from $25 to $90, but they do sell out every game so choose wisely and in advance.

Concession prices are mostly acceptable and parking is free or is relatively cheap in lots. If you have to take light tail, $5 round trip is not a bad price to pay to be rid of hassle. Merchandise was fair for the most part and the overall experience particularly high. The team puts on a really good show at Rio Tinto Stadium.

Extras    5

One star for the very good WIFI coverage (RSL FAN) and phone application RSL has to follow the team, particularly during the game and makes the experience so much more worthwhile.

One star for the free program which seems to be a staple among MLS teams.

One star is given for Leonardo the Lion, the team mascot, whose regal appearance is in stark contrast to what most team's use to reflect their image. There is no smiling animal with toothy grin, just a debonair look with a well-groomed mane

One star for the better-than-expected halftime event which can often times be put on just to fill space instead of having something worth watching. There is something going on in every corner of the pitch during half time.

A fifth star is given for the expansive merchandise store located outside section 34 which in a creatively- designed, indoor space, has everything a fan could want from the team. an afterthought.

Final Thoughts

The club has all of the little touches covered, once you get there, you realize how special it is and while there may not be a plethora of options around the stadium footprint for food, drink and entertainment, the true magic of attending a Real Salt Lake match is in the people in and around the stadium. It is quite a show and one you will be sure to enjoy when you step inside Rio Tinto Stadium.

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Crowd Reviews

The Real Thing

Total Score: 3.71

  • Food & Beverage: 5
  • Atmosphere 4
  • Neighborhood: 3
  • Fans: 5
  • Access: 3
  • RoI: 4
  • Extras: 2

For those who have followed Real Salt Lake since its inception, Rio Tinto Stadium is as much of a miracle as Real Salt Lake's MLS Cup victory last season. The plan for a soccer-specific stadium was presumed dead several times on the Utah legislative floor (largely due to the debate over funding) before it finally opened in October 2008. Maybe that's what makes watching a game there, especially an international competition like what I saw, a special experience.

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