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Real Monarchs set to open season at home on July 11 — and some fans will be allowed

(Rick Egan | The Salt Lake Tribune) Real Monarchs defender Kalen Ryden (52) tries to get the ball past Las Vegas Lights FC forward Isaác Díaz (8), in soccer action between the Real Monarchs and Las Vegas Lights FC at the new Zions Bank Stadium in, Herriman, Monday, April 30, 2018.

The Real Monarchs are back, and fans will be allowed to watch them in person.

The defending 2019 United Soccer League Championship champions open the truncated 2020 season July 11 against the San Diego Loyal SC at Rio Tinto Stadium at 2 p.m. As many as 5,300 spectators will be allowed in the stadium.

“Our staff has worked diligently to develop a comprehensive plan that ensures that we have a safe, healthy and fun environment for our fans while experiencing a great match at Rio Tinto Stadium,” Real Salt Lake Chief Business Officer Andy Carroll said in a statement.

Among the safety measures, Carroll said, is “a safe distance between seats.” Rio Tinto has a seating capacity of more than 20,000.

Face coverings will be required for fans at the game, per a team spokesperson.

“We are very grateful to the thoughtful and steady leadership that we have in Salt Lake County and throughout Utah state government in providing this opportunity,” Carroll said.

Jenny Johnson, a spokesperson for the Utah Department of Health, said the Salt Lake County Department of Health approved fans for the Monarchs game due to the county’s “yellow” guidelines. Jeff Burton, acting director of the UDOH, reviewed and approved the county health department’s plan Thursday.

“Under the ‘yellow’ guidelines for events, organizations may hold events outdoors up to 6,000 and must take measures such as employees wearing a mask, social distancing between groups, temperature checks, putting up signage about Salt Lake County’s mask order, and keeping a log of attendees and teams in case contact tracing is needed,” Johnson said.

Playing at Rio Tinto might have implications into the last two rounds of the National Women’s Soccer League Challenge Cup, which is currently underway at Zions Bank Stadium in Herriman. The semifinal and final rounds of the NWSL tournament are scheduled to occur at Rio Tinto, where RSL and the Utah Royals FC play their home games.

The Challenge Cup, announced in June, was to be played with no fans in attendance. But a team spokesperson said allowing fans for the conclusion of the Challenge Cup is “hopeful.”

The Monarchs game will be broadcast at 2 p.m. on ESPN Deportes.

The Monarchs game is part of the USL Championship’s return-to-play plan, which puts the entire league into geographical groups to reduce travel. The Monarchs were placed in Group C with the Colorado Springs Switchbacks, El Paso Locomotive and New Mexico United.

The Monarchs, who won their first title in club history last season, also on Thursday announced the remainder of their schedule. They played just one game in 2020 before the COVID-19 pandemic suspended the season.

REAL MONARCHS REMAINING SCHEDULE

July 11: vs. San Diego Loyal SC, Rio Tinto Stadium

July 18: vs. Switchbacks FC, Rio Tinto Stadium

July 29: at New Mexico United, Isotopes Park

Aug. 1: at Switchbacks FC, Weidner Field

Aug. 15: vs. El Paso Locomotive, TBD

Aug. 22: vs. New Mexico United, TBD

Aug. 29: at El Paso Locomotive, Southwest University Park

Sept. 2: vs. Tacoma Defiance, TBD

Sept. 9: vs. Switchbacks FC, TBD

Sept. 12: vs. New Mexico United, TBD

Sept. 16: vs. Portland Timbers 2, TBD

Sept. 19: at El Paso Locomotive, Southwest University Park

Sept. 26: at Switchbacks FC, Weidner Field

Sept. 30: at New Mexico United, Isotopes Park

Oct. 4: vs. El Paso Locomotive, TBD

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