Utah pro women’s soccer team makes state history with number of fans at inaugural game


America First Field had 20,370 fans at Saturday’s game between the Royals and the Chicago Red Stars

(Francisco Kjolseth | The Salt Lake Tribune) Fans cheer on the team during their season opener against the Chicago Red Stars at America First Field Saturday, March 16, 2024, in Sandy, Utah.

When the attendance at America First Field was announced for Saturday’s game between the Utah Royals and Chicago Red Stars, the state of Utah made history.

The Royals, in their first game of the 2024 season as an expansion team, welcomed 20,370 fans to the stadium. It’s the largest crowd that has ever attended a women’s soccer match — and seemingly the best attended women’s sporting event period — in the history of the state.

(Francisco Kjolseth | The Salt Lake Tribune) Fans cheer on the team during their season opener against the Chicago Red Stars at America First Field Saturday, March 16, 2024, in Sandy, Utah.

The United States Women’s National Team saw 19,584 fans in a game at Rice-Eccles Stadium in 2003. In the first iteration of the Royals, 19,203 people attended the club’s first-ever home game in the former Rio Tinto Stadium.

Coach Amy Rodriguez said playing for Utah was so special was because the support of the fan base, and that Saturday was “even bigger and better than ever before.”

“I actually lost my voice tonight because the crowd was so loud,” Rodriguez said.

(Francisco Kjolseth | The Salt Lake Tribune) Cleo meets with the fans during their season opener against the Chicago Red Stars at America First Field Saturday, March 16, 2024, in Sandy, Utah.

(Francisco Kjolseth | The Salt Lake Tribune) Young fans share a hand drawn picture of Cleo as they meet the mascot of the Utah Royals during their season opener at America First Field Saturday, March 16, 2024, in Sandy, Utah.

Rookie and No. 1 pick Ally Sentnor said it was the biggest crowd she’s ever played in front of.

“I’m just so grateful to be in this state where they really support us,” Sentnor said. “Even after the loss, you could hear them. They wanted to talk to us, they were still supporting us. That really means a lot. It’s something I know, personally, pushes me to try to help this team win.”

Co-owner David Blitzer described the milestone as “amazing” during a pregame news conference with Ryan Smith and new investor Lindsey Dunn.

“That sort of speaks for itself,” Blitzer said before the game. He later added: “Those people who come out for this experience today hopefully have an amazing experience and continue to come back and support this club.”

(Francisco Kjolseth | The Salt Lake Tribune) Fans take to the field to enjoy the fireworks following a Utah Royals season opener at America First Field Saturday, March 16, 2024, in Sandy, Utah.

(Francisco Kjolseth | The Salt Lake Tribune) Utah Royals fans crowd the America First Field on Saturday, March 16, 2024 for their home opener agains the Chicago Red Stars.

The Red Stars won the game 2-0.



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