With COVID-19 cases dropping and vaccinations increasing, Utah has been opening up more and more for several weeks. That gave the folks at Real Salt Lake, along with other community leaders, the confidence to put on a special event at Rio Tinto Stadium this summer.
RSL announced Monday that Liga MX teams Club América and Santos Laguna will play a game at the RioT on July 4. The game is part of the multi-city Tour Águila, which starts in Sandy.
RSL Interim President John Kimball, Sen. Luz Escamilla and Consul General José Borjón of the Mexican Consulate made the announcement on the second floor of the Utah State Capitol. Escamilla wasn’t shy about much of the reasoning behind bringing the two Mexican teams to Utah.
“What we need to get is people vaccinated,” Escamilla said. “If this is going to incentivize families to be participating in the game on the Fourth of July, then let it be. What a great way to just get people healthy and the opportunity to get us back to as normal as we can.”
Only 26.7% of Utahns who identify as Hispanic or Latino are fully vaccinated as of Monday, per the Utah Department of Health. Escamilla said that group of people is lagging behind the rest of the state in terms of vaccinations.
The state has even floated the idea of paying people to get vaccinated.
“I want people to get vaccinated,” Escamilla said. “If I knew another way of doing it, we would probably be doing it. We’ve been considering in Utah [some kind of] lottery, which is illegal right now. But it’s because we’re that desperate to get us to a place where everyone can be safe and healthy.”
Kimball said if efforts continue on their current trajectory, the hope is Rio Tinto will be open at full capacity by July 4. He added that RSL supports Escamilla’s efforts to increase the vaccination rates of the Hispanic community in Utah.
“We’re going to do this being very safe and very cautious because we don’t want to do anything that would put any of our fans or anybody in jeopardy,” Kimball said.
The last time Club América played at the RioT was in June 2017. The club will arrive to Utah 10 days prior to the game against Santos Lagunas and hold a training camp at the facility in Herriman.
Part of Club América’s stay will involve various events like camps and clinics. Those details are yet to be finalized, Kimball said.
Tickets go on sale for the July 4 game on Thursday. There won’t be fireworks after the game, but fans will be able to enjoy fireworks on July 3 after RSL takes on LAFC at home.