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Cover Story - November 2008

Real Salt Lake Rio Tinto Stadium

A Timeless, Contemporary Stadium

Real Salt Lake’s Rio Tinto Stadium brings vision to life

In addition to serving as a world-class soccer venue, the stadium will host exhibition matches, youth and college sporting events, community festivals, concerts and other entertainment-oriented events. The stadium features 32 luxury suites, a stadium club room that seats 1,000 people, a 30-seat press box, six broadcast booths, press lounge, camera stations and an 8,500 sq-ft commissary.

By Candice L. Macfarlane

The Real Salt Lake Rio Tinto Stadium in Sandy, Utah, has an open-air design to take advantage of Salt Lake’s natural surroundings, the Wasatch Mountains to the east and Oquirrh Mountains to the west.

Real Salt Lake Rio Tinto Stadium

At the Real Salt Lake soccer team’s opening game Oct. 9, spectators not only enjoyed the surrounding beauty, but they were in a stadium that is “timeless, classic and has those elements about it that allow it to be contemporary as well,” says principal in charge Tim Lambert of Los Angeles-based Rossetti Architects.

To realize owner Dave Checkett’s vision for the facility, the design and construction used classic, timeless materials, including honed block and Arriscraft Stone, which provide a European look for the stadium.

Alan Johnson, president of IMS Masonry in Lindon, Utah, calls the stadium project his favorite job in the 19 years the company has been in business. He says the combination of products, as well as how much is used on radiuses or curved areas of the stadium, makes this project stick out among the others in the company’s portfolio.

The project’s rich materials are “a step above what you typically see in a stadium,” Lambert says.

Project executive Gene Fatur of Turner Construction, Denver, says the stadium has a higher end of finishes than other soccer stadiums, and he speaks from experience with eight other sports projects on his resume.

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The Real Salt Lake stadium project was a joint venture project with Sandy-based Layton Construction and Turner Construction leading the construction team. The $110 million project has a construction cost of $74 million.

In addition to serving as a world-class soccer venue, the stadium will host exhibition matches, youth and college sporting events, community festivals, concerts and other entertainment-oriented events.

Rossetti Architects began its work on the design long before the Aug. 12, 2006, groundbreaking. When Lambert first sat down with the ownership group, there were three sites in mind for the project, but none was the Sandy location where the stadium sits today. The site is centrally located in the Salt Lake Valley and has the future growth potential the owner wanted for the project.

No matter where the stadium ended up being constructed, the ownership group had plenty of ideas about what it wanted in the design, and it stressed the importance of the views. Lambert says that, as a result, one of the clubs has views to both the east and west.

In addition to taking the views into account and creating a classic, timeless structure, there is a more “playful or whimsical” feel to the roof structure, Lambert adds. The unique form of the roof canopy was created through a Teflon coated fiberglass structure that was fabricated in Shanghai, China.

Fatur says the canopy system gives the stadium its unique look and is one of its signature features with its curving shape and tent-like feel.

Beneath the roof, 20,000 tilt-up seats fill the stadium. Those seats were full of fans on Oct. 9 as a result of Layton-Turner Construction’s negotiations with Real Salt Lake to accelerate construction to accommodate an early opening. The original scheduled completion for the project was later in the fall 2008.

Even with that as the target, the project had an aggressive 19-month schedule, which meant “longer days, weekend work and more overtime,” Layton Construction project manager Jake Greenland says.

Field irrigation and drainage systems were complete and sod was in place by the end of June. The field is covered by 105,000 sq ft of sand-based bluegrass sod from Colorado. In order to get the field ready for use, 215,000 cu yds of soil was displaced. Of that, 162,000 cu yds were cut to fill and 53,000 cu yds were imported fill. The team tried out the new grass for the first time Sept. 23 during practice.

The stadium has 32 luxury suites, a stadium club room that seats 1,000, 30-seat press box, six broadcast booths, press lounge, camera stations and an 8,500 sq-ft commissary.

One other feature that stands out is the club area, Greenland says. In other soccer stadiums, “you don’t typically have a club with a terrace only about 15 rows up off the grass,” he adds.

Project Team
General Contractor: Layton-Turner Joint Venture, Sandy, Utah
Architect: Rossetti Architects, Los Angeles
Structural Engineer: Martin & Associates, Los Angeles
Civil Engineer: Allred Soffe Wilkinson & Nichols, Murray, Utah
Electrical Engineer: M-E Engineers, Denver
Geotechnical: Consolidated Engineering Lab, San Ramon, Calif.
Management Team: Sports Capital Partners, New York Icon Venue Group, Greenwood Village, Colo.

 

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