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RSL to return to full capacity at Rio Tinto Stadium for July 4 weekend

Real Salt Lake fans cheer as RSL and Houston play an MLS soccer game at Rio Tinto Stadium in Sandy on Saturday, June 26, 2021.

Real Salt Lake fans cheer as RSL and Houston play an MLS soccer game at Rio Tinto Stadium in Sandy on Saturday, June 26, 2021. (Annie Barker, Deseret News)

SANDY — Real Salt Lake will be back to full stadium capacity in time for the Fourth of July holiday.

The club announced Monday that Rio Tinto Stadium will return to full capacity for Saturday's match against Los Angeles FC, the first match with all 20,213 seats available for an MLS match since the COVID-19 pandemic shut down most North American sports in March 2020.

Masks and face coverings will continue to be strongly encouraged, but not required, for fans and patrons of the stadium, which has been open to nearly full capacity since June 4. Other sanitization efforts such as digital entry and ticket scanning, cashless payments and hand sanitization stations throughout the stadium will continue to be employed by the club, RSL said.

"As an organization we know that our fanbase has been anxiously awaiting the opportunity to return to full capacity at our home games since the pandemic struck last year," RSL interim president John Kimball said. "As a community we have shown resolve in navigating such a unique situation over the last year and now that the opportunity to welcome our entire fanbase back to Rio Tinto Stadium is here we couldn't be more excited. In doing so, we want to credit the diligence and hard work that our club, our fans and the Utah State Health Department, the Salt Lake County Health Department and Governor Spencer Cox have put in to getting us back to full capacity."

In association with the Fourth of July holiday, the stadium will also host a post-match fireworks display under significant safety protocols related to Utah's extreme drought situation.

"On July 3, we plan to open the building for the holiday weekend," Kimball said, "and in addition to the players and staff putting their best foot forward on the field, we will follow the match with a fireworks celebration, giving our fans a chance to celebrate in a safe environment."

The full-capacity stadium will also play host to Mexican giant Club América and Santos Laguna on Sunday for a preseason friendly between the Liga MX rivals. Las Aguilas have been training at the RSL academy complex in Herriman for the past week as they embark on a two-week preseason tour leading up to the 2021-22 campaign.

"The timing is perfect, because the next day July 4, Club América will play Santos Laguna here and those tickets are selling very well. It's going to be a fantastic weekend, and we're happy to be back to full capacity," Kimball said in making the announcement on ESPN 700 radio. "Being there last Saturday, there's nothing like a Saturday night at Rio Tinto, and it's fun to be back and cheering for everything we love."

Kimball also mentioned during his radio segment that Real Salt Lake will likely soon be partnering with PSV Eindhoven in the Netherlands in a commercial and business partnership that may include some camps and clinics in the near future. RSL and PSV were recently linked when 20-year-old RSL academy product Richard Ledezma signed with the Dutch side in December 2018.

Ledezma has recently made three appearances with PSV after spending the 2019 season on loan with Jong PSV in the Dutch reserve division, where he scored six goals in 34 appearances.

"We're starting a relationship with them, and are in the process of building a better relationship with that club," Kimball told ESPN 700. "But the cool thing is they approached us; they reached out to me and said they've picked Utah, they see what we're doing, the academy, how we build our players — and they want to start doing some things on the commercial side as well as on the club side.

"Again, globally, Utah is being recognized."

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