Photo courtesy Real Monarchs SLC
HERRIMAN, Utah – Real Monarchs SLC won a USL-best 12 games on home turf a season ago at Rio Tinto Stadium, which proved to be one of the major factors when the club lifted the 2017 USL Regular Season Championship – the first silverware in its history – before its penultimate game of the regular season at the venue.
As the club moves into its new home at Zions Bank Stadium, the goal is to get close to reproducing those same results in the state-of-the-art venue that will be unveiled on Monday night, when the club hosts Las Vegas Lights FC (9 p.m. ET | Match Center | ESPN+).
“It’s unbelievable to have our own facility, our own stadium, our own home,” said Monarchs Head Coach Mark Briggs. “I think everybody’s excited to get out there and make it the same fortress as what we did last year with Rio Tinto.”
Part of the Real Salt Lake organization’s new $78-million facility in Herriman, Zions Bank Stadium joins the likes of Rio Grande Valley FC’s H-E-B Park, Orange County SC’s Champions Soccer Stadium and the Phoenix Rising Soccer Complex among the new soccer-specific venues that have arrived in the USL’s Western Conference in the past two seasons.
The investment put into the project by RSL owner Dell Loy Hansen has highlighted the new prominence the Monarchs have reached within the club, with all three of Real Salt Lake, Real Monarchs SCL and the organization’s new NWSL club Utah Royals FC being equipped to compete at the highest level within their respective leagues.
“We have been talking about this for many, many years, it’s just nice to finally have it in a position where we can say it’s done,” said Monarchs President Jake Haueter. “We’re going to have a home opener April 30, and I think it just goes to show Dell Loy [Hansen] is committed, he’s committed to soccer in this community, he’s committed to fans, he’s committed to giving people the best possible soccer atmosphere that we can. It’s a gift to be able to come and be part of something great.”
Zions Bank Stadium will provide a feeling that fans who’ve been to Rio Tinto Stadium will know well. Views of both Oquirrh and Wasatch Mountains make the backdrop among the most picturesque in the league, while the field by Greenfields MX Trimension from The Netherlands, one of the world’s leaders in their field, measures the same 120 yards x 75 yards that can be found at the RioT.
For one of the Monarchs’ new additions this offseason, Justin Portillo – who for the past four seasons played for the Charleston Battery at one of the USL’s historic venues, MUSC Health Stadium – the new facility is eye-opening even for someone with his experience at great soccer-specific venues.
“It’s nothing like I’ve ever seen before,” said Portillo. “Everything has been top-class since I’ve been here, so hopefully we can keep grinding out these wins playing good football, and hopefully the fans will come out to cheer us on, be nice and loud and give us this momentum against other teams.”
What the Monarchs’ leadership believes makes a major difference is the attention to detail that can be found throughout the venue. From hospitality suites to a wide range of concession stands, a children’s playground available for fans, a full press area and locker rooms that include separate spaces for home and visiting coaches and staffs, the club’s goal of creating one of the premier venues in the league has been accomplished.
Photo courtesy Real Monarchs SLC
Not that Briggs and his team will be looking to provide a warm welcome for visiting clubs on the field after their arrival at the venue.
“For us, as a team, as a group, it’s about making Zions Bank Stadium a fortress, and that’s by making it a horrible place for teams to come and play,” said the 2017 USL Coach of the Year. “They come here, they know they’re going to have the city of Herriman supporting the team first and foremost and being the 12th man from the stands, and then us making sure the 11 players on the field represent the Real Monarchs and the city of Herriman in the way that we all want them to, and that’s by playing with desire, by playing with passion, by playing with a hunger and by winning games.”
With the Monarchs already off to another strong start this season, opening night at Zions Bank Stadium is promising to be a special occasion for all associated with the organization, and a launching point for a great future.