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Volume 26 No. 206
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Real Salt Lake, Rio Tinto Agree To Stadium Naming-Rights Deal

Rio Tinto To Sponsor RSL's New Stadium In 10-
Year Deal That Could Be Worth Up To $20M
MLS Real Salt Lake and its owner, SCP Worldwide, have signed a "10-year naming-rights deal with global mining giant Rio Tinto that could be worth up to $20[M]," according to Mickle & Lefton of SPORTSBUSINESS JOURNAL. The deal will see the team's new 20,000-seat soccer stadium in Sandy, Utah, become known as Rio Tinto Stadium. The deal is "comparable to other MLS deals in size and scope," putting its value at $1.5-2M annually for 10 years. RSL Owner Dave Checketts: "It's a huge show of confidence in our team, our franchise, the sport and the league. This is not only a very large Utah company, but an international company that appreciates what we're doing in terms of the international game and its implications." Rio Tinto "will use the naming-rights deal to promote its ownership of Kennecott Utah Copper, one of the state's largest employers." Kennecott "operates one of the world's largest open-pit copper mines in Bingham Canyon," which is 28 miles southwest of Salt Lake City and "can be seen from the stadium." Rio Tinto is "considering setting up an educational area that explains Kennecott's operations on a stadium concourse that offers a view of the mine." Some part of the stadium "will be called Kennecott Plaza" (SPORTSBUSINESS JOURNAL, 9/29 issue). In Salt Lake City, Michael Lewis reports the deal "confirms speculation in online soccer forums that Rio Tinto would acquire the naming rights of the Sandy stadium -- one post noted that RSL had registered to acquire two Web addresses related to the stadium name." The deal also "fills in the long-awaited final blank in advance of" the stadium's scheduled opening October 9 against the Red Bulls (SALT LAKE TRIBUNE, 9/29).

READY TO GO: In Utah, Rebecca Palmer reported, contrary to a previous report that the stadium's fire notification system may not be finished by October 9, Stadium Project Manager Mike Steele said that Sandy fire officials "signed off on fire safety on Sept. 16." RSL officials also said that the speaker system "has been finished and is being tested regularly." But "still unfinished for the first game will be one small bathroom on the stadium's south side and areas like the weight room for players and offices for RSL staff." However, RSL Senior Dir of Marketing Trey Fitz-Gerald said, "Everything the fan touches is going to be operational" (DESERET NEWS, 9/28).