Heading into the 2021 season, the Real Salt Lake organization among many other sports franchises across the country were faced with the difficult task of generating revenue to make up for what was lost during 2020 when the pandemic stifled income for many businesses.
Welcoming fans back to Rio Tinto Stadium has proven to be vital for the club in 2021 and the RSL Team Store in Sandy has used this opportunity to present a fresh stock of RSL-branded products, focus on its online retail space and provide fans around the stadium the ease of purchasing the latest gear without missing the match.
Since 2019, the club’s Team Store has seen a per-cap jump nearly 100 percent, a feat thought near impossible since the setback caused by the occurrences of 2020. The club’s Director of Merchandise Thomas Warren credits several facets to the growing success of the team store including the rejuvenated spirit of the RSL fanbase and the environment that surrounds a matchday in Sandy.
“2021 has been our best year to date since I started before the 2018 season and I think with the ability to procure a quality assortment of products through our incredible partners like adidas and New Era – among others, we’ve been able to create a selection of products that cater more to what our fans want,” RSL Director of Merchandise Thomas Warren explained. “We’ve had a lot of time over the last several months to learn that what we’re doing and the products we’re offering are resonating with the fans. We think it’s resonating because of what happened in the 2020 season and now we’re welcoming fans back into our building who are excited about the team and want to represent their club. The overall atmosphere of the club as a whole has contributed to our stores success tremendously.”
Levy Restaurants – Rio Tinto Stadium’s food and beverage partner – has also seen tremendous growth thus far in the 2021 season and similar to the RSL Team Store, the aura surrounding the club and the stadium and the speed in which fans are able to purchase food and beverages has played a massive role.
“Following 2020 we are seeing a massive trend that people are excited to come back to the stadium and have a full experience. Our fans are clearly tired of eating at home and have been missing their favorite offerings here at the Stadium. The energy has been so amazing and the fans are very passionate about being back here to support the team and enjoy all of our offerings.” Levy Restaurants Director of Operations Matt Mednick said. “During the pandemic we were forced to go to a cash and contact free environment. Now that this has become normal we are seeing a tremendous benefit to this in terms of speed of service to the guest. The spend has increased almost 30% from the last normal season mostly because we are seeing the amount of transactions and the speed of transaction increase exponentially. “
With new food additions to Rio Tinto Stadium, the club has also found that having various types of food and beverage options located strategically throughout the stadium has given fans the option to purchase their favorite foods in a timely manner without missing large portions of the match.
“Knowing all of the things we know now following a really difficult year we’ve been able to implement a speed of service initiative with a “grab-and-go” model where we have our most popular items at each of our locations within the stadium can be picked up and paid for in as little time as possible.”
New to the food selection lineup at Rio Tinto Stadium is R&R Barbeque – a favorite local restaurant – that opened for the first time at Rio Tinto Stadium ahead of RSL’s match against Minnesota United FC on May 29. Through partnerships with local vendors, the club has been able to create menu items that fans will enjoy having been tailored specifically for the stadium.