PROFESSIONAL RUGBY IN UTAH
Rugby is America’s fastest growing sport, outpacing soccer, lacrosse and other traditional American sports. And with rugby being one of the world’s largest sports the professionalization of the sport in America was inevitable.
In 2018 the Utah Warriors were one of the seven founding members of Major League Rugby (MLR), which has now become North America’s fastest-growing professional sport, with twelve teams competing in 2020 and fourteen slated to compete in 2021. In 2021, the MLR will feature eight of North America’s largest media markets from New York to Los Angeles.
RUGBY IS IN UTAH’S DNA
Utah is one of North America’s epicenters of rugby with a multigenerational rugby community that dates back to the late 19th century and includes the historical influence of the world’s second-largest Polynesian communities outside of Polynesia. Whether it was 20-time National Champion Highland Rugby of five-time National Champion BYU; Utah’s rugby community from youth to pro is pound-for-pound, one of America’s most dynamic.
BUILDING THE EPICENTER
The Utah Warriors’ founder is Kimball Kjar whose vision is to make the Warrior’s and Utah the epicenter of rugby for North America. “We have something special here in Utah,” Kjar said, “Rugby is a part of who we are and there are so many synergies that the sport has to our business, technology and civic communities that the opportunities to do something special are pretty exciting to think about.”
Some of the opportunities Kjar is referencing are the Warriors plans to build their own stadium and ancillary high-performance training center. The facilities, which will play host to not only the Warriors home games, but also other sports and community events will help fuel more local, national and even international notoriety to the state of Utah.
America’s fastest-growing game also means Americans are becoming fans of the game at higher rates. The Warriors are in the MLR’s top three in average attendance and boast the MLR record attendance of 9,186 set on March 30, 2018 in the Warriors first-ever match. And first-time watchers of Warriors home games quickly become some of the team’s biggest fans and season ticket holders.
“My first time at a Warriors game, I didn’t know what was going on,” said current season ticket holder Ryan Garrett, “But we loved! And we soon bought season tickets and love coming to every home game!”
The Warriors fan base is also one of the most uniquely situated and committed from a marketing perspective. The Utah Warriors social media channels boast 60% average engagement and indexes higher than all other professional sports leagues in the categories of Families, Millennials, Academics, and Affluence.