In Utah, it's long been acknowledged that college football is king of the hill when it comes to the sporting scene.
Real Salt Lake didn't flinch.
Despite going head-to-head with two college football games along the Wasatch Front, including the state's overshadowing BYU-Utah rivalry, the Claret-and-Cobalt rang up a victory.
And not just on the field.
With 63,742 packed into Provo's LaVell Edwards Stadium for the Utes-Cougars clash, along with a national television broadcast on ESPN2, and another 8,362 at Ogden's Stewart Stadium for the Weber State-Sacramento State game, Real Salt Lake proved it has drawing power all its own
Real's gritty, hard-fought 1-0 win over Sporting Kansas City on Saturday was its third sellout of the season with a standing room-only crowd of 19,888 packing into Rio Tinto Stadium to was the Utah-based Major League Soccer side capture its fourth consecutive victory.
It was the third-largest attendance of the season, behind only an early season meeting with Los Angeles in MLS play and the CONCACAF Champions League final against Monterrey.
"For us to have a standing-room only crowd of 19,888 on a Saturday night during college football season might be surprising to some, but not to us," RSL spokesman Trey Fitz-Gerald said. "Last fall, we sold out a home game on a day when both Utah and BYU also hosted games, and have sold out in the past head-to-head with a Jazz playoff game as well."
During the 2010 season, Real Salt Lake management made the decision to move the start time of home match against Philadelphia from a night match to a day match to avoid going up against a Jazz home playoff game. It was a decision that many RSL fans ultimately, and vocally, disagreed with.
"We know it isn't easy on many of the great sports fans across the state to have these types of conflicts, but it is a testament to the foothold RSL and soccer have in our community," Fitz-Gerald said. "As the Salt Lake Valley and the State of Utah continue to mature as a sports market, fans will have to make these types of choices -- and that's actually a good thing."
Saturday night's sellout proved that Real Salt Lake doesn't need to worry about competing head-to-head with anyone, especially at a time when the fortunes of the team are high and its product is not just competitive, but among the best in its league.
It's also, as Fitz-Gerald pointed out, as sure sign that the Utah sports market has expanded enough that it can give Utahns a variety of options for their sporting dollar without the teams cannibalizing each other's attendance and market share to get there.
And that's not just a good thing. It's a fantastic thing.
You can follow Justin Johnson on Twitter at: @jjohnson801 or email him at email@example.com.