Sports return to America... in Herrriman?Jun 24, 2020 11:33AM ● By Justin Adams
Zions Bank Stadium will play host to two national sporting events this summer. (Photo courtesy of Real Salt Lake.)
By Justin Adams | [email protected]
Earlier this year, Herriman residents were excitedly preparing for a major sporting event to come to the city at the end of the summer, the Tour of Utah bike race. It was going to be an opportunity for the city to show itself off to the rest of the country, and even the world, as the host city of the race’s first leg. Unfortunately, those plans fell through when the Tour of Utah was canceled because of COVID-19.
But through a twist of fate, Herriman will still play host to not just one, but two sporting events with a national profile this summer.
First, the National Women’s Soccer League’s Challenge Cup will be played between June 27 and July 26. All but three games of the 25-game tournament will be played at Zions Bank Stadium, the home of the Real Monarchs.
Del Loy Hansen, owner of the Monarchs, Real Salt Lake and the Utah Royals of the NWSL, said Utah was the perfect place to host the tournament in a May 27 statement released by the league.
“With the efforts of our frontline workers, our state’s early adoption of preventive measures and our facilities at Zions Bank Real Academy, Rio Tinto Stadium and America First Credit Union Field, Utah is uniquely prepared to host the nine teams in the NWSL and put on a tremendous tournament,” said Hansen.
Since that time however, COVID-19 cases in Utah have begun to spike, leading the state to be among the top five hotspots nationwide for transmission of the virus.
To minimize health risk for the players and other personnel involved in hosting the tournament, all participants will be tested for COVID-19 prior to arriving in Utah. According to the NWSL statement, “Each player, official and essential staff member will be tested 48 hours prior to departure for Utah and upon arrival and will be subject to consistent testing, temperature readings and symptom review throughout their stay in Utah.”
The games will also be closed to spectators, but fans can still watch the action on CBS, CBS Sports and Twitch, where an estimated 9 million viewers will tune in throughout the tournament.
“This is the first major sports league to be getting back to business, and it’s happening in Herriman, Utah. That’s a big deal and will garner some attention,” said Herriman City Councilmember Steven Shields during a council discussion on the event.
The council agreed to pay $100,000 to become a sponsor of the tournament, which will provide the city with multiple opportunities to market itself to potential residents and businesses looking to relocate.
Of the $100,000, 30% comes from funds that were already allocated for the cancelled Tour of Utah event. City Finance Director Alan Rae said funding the remaining balance won’t be a problem for the city’s budget.
At the same time that the NWSL Challenge Cup comes to a close, the Premiere Lacrosse League will begin hosting its Championship Series tournament, also at Zions Bank Stadium. That tournament will run from July 25 to Aug. 9. It will feature seven teams from around the country. Those games will be broadcast on NBC, as well as the network’s various sports-focused channels and outlets.
In addition to showcasing the city to potential businesses, Councilmember Jared Henderson suggested the two events could help market the city as a desirable destination for amateur sports tournaments which can bring even more money into the local economy.