HERRIMAN — Everything at the Real Monarchs’ new home at Zions Bank Stadium is set up to mirror its first team, Real Salt Lake.
From the locker rooms, to the colors, to the identical 120-by-75 yard field, everything at the second-division side’s new home parallels Rio Tinto Stadium.
That’s by design.
Everything done with the Monarchs since the club’s inaugural season four years ago has been trying to imitate the Real Salt Lake first team. From coaching, to players, to uniforms — and now, a brand-new stadium on the site of the club’s $78 million training facility in Herriman.
"Our goal as a group is to win (the USL Cup)," Real Monarchs coach Mark Briggs said. "But ultimately, their goal has to be to play in MLS, with Real Salt Lake. I think if that is their goal, then we will achieve our goals."
The Monarchs (4-1-0) open their new home Monday night at 7 p.m. MDT against newcomers Las Vegas Lights FC (KMYU, ESPN+), but the second-division club’s plans for a stadium to call its own have been in the work for long before that.
RSL’s second team just kicked off its fourth year, one season removed from winning the USL regular-season title, and three years removed from a home-field saga that saw its ownership try to find a landing spot at Salt Lake City’s Fairpark and West Valley City’s Maverik Center.
Finally, the club will get a room and an identity of its own in the 5,000-seat stadium in the southwest corner of the valley, perfectly situated for views of the Oquirrh and Wasatch mountain ranges and along the Redwood Road/Mountain View Corridor stretch that connects Salt Lake County with the west side of Utah Lake.
"It’s a beautiful backdrop," said Monarchs team captain Chandler Hoffman, who is one goal away from being the third player in USL’s modern era to reach the 50-goal mark. "We’re excited to open it up on Monday. It takes a little bit of an adjustment from Rio Tinto, but I think it’s going to be a place that teams find really hard to play."
Hear the captain's thoughts after this morning's training 👂🏼 pic.twitter.com/lrL9jpVFsS— Real Monarchs (@RealMonarchs) April 27, 2018
The fast-growing Herriman has embraced its own professional franchise, and the Monarchs hope to embrace the city in the same way.
"It's quite a match," said Briggs, who is in his second season in charge of the club. "Herriman is growing, and we’re right in the middle of the club pyramid. Our job is to grow these players, develop these players, and hopefully send them on to play at Rio Tinto."
The stadium is practical, if not gaudy, a premier venue for the second-tier United Soccer League on the 70-acre campus of RSL’s $78 million academy and charter high school. The artificial surface was set by a company from the Netherlands that has installed turf in some of Europe’s top-class soccer venues.
A full-service press box, broadcast and owners' suite dot the stadium’s east balcony that is filled with chair-back seating, while the west side features bleachers, a children’s playground and one of Utah’s more austere views of the Salt Lake Valley.
One end of the stadium is devoted to a beer garden filled with tables, for fans who want an adult beverage while catching a match.
Every element of the stadium has been designed meticulously by architects and contractors brought in by RSL owner Dell Loy Hansen, the Logan-bred real estate mogul who also owns the Monarchs and the club’s sister organization Utah Royals FC.
"I think Mr. Hansen has thought about every single possible detail in order to create the ultimate fan experience," Briggs said. "He wants that close-knit environment, the park for the children, the closeness of the stands to the field. It's a unique experience, and hopefully the team can put on good performances and create a unique relationship with the city of Herriman."
The only thing left is winning.
The Monarchs have won four of their first five matches, with only one home win before a 2-0 defeat at Tampa Bay a week ago. Their inaugural opponent, Las Vegas Lights FC, is a USL expansion franchise that just dropped a 3-1 decision to San Antonio late Friday night.
"From a distance standpoint, they are the closest team to us. It’s a local derby, so to speak, and they are a good side," Briggs said of Las Vegas. "They've been very good on the road. It’s going to be a very difficult game, but a very exciting game — I expect them to come here and give us a game and try to go for the points themselves."
First and foremost, the Monarchs want to give the city of Herriman and Salt Lake’s west side something to be proud to call their own.
"We’re in Herriman, and we’re Herriman’s professional soccer team," Briggs said. "Hopefully the Herriman community can get behind us and support the team like their own — because we are."