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Building a temporary fan base: Vancouver Whitecaps to open Rio Tinto Stadium to local fans

Vancouver Whitecaps' Anthony Blondell, left, gets his head on the ball next to Real Salt Lake's Brooks Lennon during the second half of an MLS soccer match Friday, April 27, 2018, in Vancouver, British Columbia. (Darry Dyck/The Canadian Press via AP)

Vancouver Whitecaps' Anthony Blondell, left, gets his head on the ball next to Real Salt Lake's Brooks Lennon during the second half of an MLS soccer match Friday, April 27, 2018, in Vancouver, British Columbia. (Darry Dyck/The Canadian Press via AP) (Darryl Dyck, The Canadian Press via AP)



SANDY — As the calendar moves into the summer, Salt Lake City continues to be home to another professional sports franchise.

And now, fans can jump on the bandwagon.

Vancouver Whitecaps FC, the Major League Soccer club that has called Rio Tinto Stadium its temporary home since the start of the season, announced Friday that a limited number of fans would be allowed at Rio Tinto Stadium when the club resumes play following the international break.

"We have been pleasantly surprised with the interest from the local community to attend our home matches here in Utah," said Axel Schuster, Whitecaps FC sporting director and chief executive officer. "We miss our fans at BC Place, and we are very optimistic about playing in front of them later this season.

"Until then, our coaches and players have made clear that they would embrace the opportunity to play in front of fans here during any match. I have to once again give a tremendous amount of credit to Real Salt Lake for accommodating us and helping us offer tickets to our matches. We look forward to seeing people in the stands."

The club has been temporarily stationed in Utah since March due to COVID-19 restrictions that make travel across the United States and Canadian border difficult. Toronto FC and CF Montreal have similarly been based out of Miami and Orlando for similar reasons.

Vancouver's first match following the break will be Friday, June 18, but Real Salt Lake has been deemed the home team for that match — meaning the club will begin to allow a mostly full-capacity stadium for the 7:30 p.m. MT kickoff.

The Whitecaps' first match against a non-Salt Lake City-based opponent will be Wednesday, June 23, when they host the LA Galaxy at Rio Tinto Stadium. Tickets for that match, as well as the July 7 match against RSL and July 17 match against the Galaxy are available for sale at whitecapsfc.com/tickets and riotintostadium.com.

The club says Real Salt Lake season ticket holders will also receive an offer via email for discounted tickets to any of the Whitecaps' three "home" matches.

Vancouver also says that every member of the team's travel group based in Utah — including coaches, players and support staff — have been fully vaccinated against COVID-19, which the CDC describes as two weeks since receiving a final dose.

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