SANDY — At least one Utah sporting venue will no longer require masks for home games.
Real Salt Lake will no longer require masks to attend matches at the outdoor Rio Tinto Stadium, the club announced Tuesday in an email to fans and season ticket holders. The new policy effectively goes into effect immediately, with masks no longer required with Saturday's 7:30 p.m. MT kickoff against Nashville SC.
The club had previously restricted stadium capacity to around 10,000 tickets, or roughly half of the 20,213-seat stadium. That policy remains in place, as well as additional precautions including physical distancing for fans. Stadium employees, including security and concession workers, and club staff will continue to wear masks, and players, coaches and officials will continue to be masked up as they enter and exit the locker room area, per Major League Soccer policy.
RSL says masks will continue to be "strongly recommended" inside the stadium, which has previously included signage and announcements around the concourse on match day. Special seating arrangements will also be made for those who are more comfortable attending a match with mask requirements and additional social distancing in place.
The new policy does not affect the Vancouver Whitecaps, who are calling Rio Tinto Stadium home for the indefinite future due to COVID-19 travel restrictions between the United States and Canada, because fans have not been approved for Whitecaps "home" matches in Sandy.
Additional questions or ticketing needs may be forwarded to RSL Ticketing at 844-REAL-TIX (844-732-5849).
The move is in accordance with local and state health guidelines, which began relaxing COVID-19 restrictions as part of the Utah legislature's "COVID-19 endgame" bill earlier this month. Other local venues continue to require masks, including the Utah Jazz and Vivint Arena, with a reduced capacity of around 6,700 that recently allowed vaccinated, masked-up fans to return to courtside seating — just over one-third of the 18,300-seat arena.
The Utah Warriors, the Major League Rugby team that plays in the 5,000-seat Zions Banks Stadium in Herriman, recently rescinded its mask policy ahead of last week's game against Old Glory DC. The Warriors continue to "strongly encourage" masks for anyone inside the stadium, while also requiring them for stadium personnel and concessions workers on match day.
It's unclear if Real Monarchs, RSL's second-division reserve side that plays at Zions Bank Stadium, will lift its own mask requirement beginning with Friday night's home opener against LA Galaxy II (7 p.m. MT, ESPN+).
Real Salt Lake is off to a strong start to the 2021 season with a 2-1 record on the young season after last Friday's 2-1 loss to the San Jose Earthquakes. The club is currently in the middle of a run of matches that includes seven of nine at home.