Real Salt Lake's new stadium will still be a work-in-progress when it opens in early October, but all the bells and whistles are sure to be in place next year when it hosts the 2009 MLS All-Star Game.
MLS President Mark Abbott attended the official announcement yesterday at the new facility in suburban Sandy. The date and opponent for the 2009 All-Star Game will be announced early next year, with another international team expected to provide the opposition. This year's match is being played July 24 against West Ham United at BMO Field in Toronto, which opened in March, 2007.
"It is a testament to the growth of the league that we are able to host this wonderful event in a soccer-specific stadium for the seventh consecutive year," said Abbott, in reference to games played since 2003 at BMO Field, Columbus Crew Stadium, Home Depot Center, Dicks' Sporting Goods Park, RFK Stadium and Toyota Park.
RFK Stadium has only been soccer-specific since the baseball Nationals moved last fall out but still, that's a rather impressive lineup of facilities that have been opened in the past decade. And the list doesn't include the home of FC Dallas, Pizza Hut Park, which has hosted two MLS Cups since it opened in 2005 but not the All-Star Game, and wasn't completely ready, either, for its first championship game.
The 20,000-seat RSL stadium (projected cost: $110 million) will feature 1,000 club seats, 32 luxury suites, and a concert stage, but team officials have already confirmed every element won't be completed in time for the Oct. 9 unveiling against Red Bull New York to be televised nationally on ESPN2.
Sandy city firefighters may be hired to stand at various places throughout the stadium in case of an emergency necessitating evacuation of the stadium, the south end of which won't be fully operational by opening day. Staff offices and some of the suites aren't expected to be ready until the season ends.