What NWSL stadium is at the highest elevation?

A general view of Rio Tinto Stadium
A general view of the Houston Dash playing the Chicago Red Stars during the 2020 NWSL Challenge Cup at Rio Tinto Stadium in Sandy, Utah. (Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)

The Utah Royals’ America First Field (formerly Rio Tinto Stadium) is the NWSL stadium sitting at the highest elevation. Roughly 4,463 feet above sea level, the soccer-specific stadium nestles just off the slopes of the Wasatch Mountains.

No other NWSL club plays its home games at a venue with an altitude of more than 750 feet. That makes America First Field an outlier in the women’s football league, offering a unique challenge for visiting teams. It also highlights the diversity of NWSL venues seen across the US.

Elevations of every NWSL stadium

Given Salt Lake Valley’s proximity to the Rocky Mountains, it’s fitting for the Utah Royals to claim the stadium with the highest elevation in the NWSL. But the league’s 13 other stadiums have much lower elevations, with some barely hitting double digits.

Angel City FCLos Angeles, CABMO Stadium176 feet (54 m)
Bay FCSan Jose, CAPayPal Park56 feet (17 m)
Chicago Red StarsBridgeview, ILSeatGeek Stadium614 feet (187 m)
Houston DashHouston, TXShell Energy Stadium43 feet (13 m)
Kansas City CurrentKansas City, MOCPKC Stadium743 feet (227 m)
NJ/NY Gotham FCHarrison, NJRed Bull Arena10 feet (3 m)
North Carolina CourageCary, NCWakeMed Soccer Park485 feet (148 m)
Orlando PrideOrlando, FLInter&Co Stadium105 feet (32 m)
Portland Thorns FCPortland, ORProvidence Park105 feet (32 m)
Racing Louisville FCLouisville, KYLynn Family Stadium448 feet (136 m)
San Diego Wave FCSan Diego, CASnapdragon Stadium71 feet (22 m)
Seattle Reign FCSeattle, WALumen Field16 feet (5 m)
Utah RoyalsSandy, UTAmerica First Field4,463 feet (1,360 m)
Washington SpiritWashington, D.C.Audi Field25 feet (8 m)
Elevation data from What Is My Elevation? and Free Map Tools.

The impact of elevation on football players

The US is one of the world’s most geographically diverse countries due to its expansive land area.

For sports fans, the nation’s topographies go on full display as teams travel and compete in different regions. However, drastic changes in climate and elevation can present challenges for athletes on the road — especially in mountainous environments, cold-weather areas, and places with extreme heat.

A snowy view of Rio Tinto Stadium
A snowy view of Rio Tinto Stadium during an international friendly match between the United States and Mexico on March 31, 2010, in Sandy, Utah. (Photo by Jonathan Ferrey/Getty Images)

Playing at higher elevations can induce altitude sickness, with symptoms like headaches and fatigue. While professional footballers are generally more resilient to altitude sickness, the risk remains if players don’t acclimatize to the environmental conditions.

Elevating football in the US

With the NWSL constantly expanding, there are more possibilities for high-altitude stadiums to enter the league. A Denver-based investment group launched an effort in July 2023 to land an NWSL or USL Super League team. A team in Colorado would certainly rival the Utah Royal’s claim to the NWSL stadium at the highest elevation.

Speaking of the USL Super League, Spokane Zephyr FC will have that league’s highest-elevation stadium when it kicks off in August 2024. Its One Spokane Stadium sits at around 1,900 feet (580 m) near the Selkirk Mountains.

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