Jae C. Hong, Associated Press
This Jan. 22, 2011, file photo shows Ryan Villopoto crossing the finish line to win the Monster Energy Supercross motorcycle race at Dodger Stadium in Los Angeles.

SALT LAKE CITY — Over the years, Supercross fans in Utah have established a reputation as being among the most devoted in the country.

As recently as April 2018, more than 836,000 TV-viewing Utahns tuned in for the race held in Salt Lake City, one of the highest viewing totals in the 44-year history of the sport.

Utah has hosted numerous races over the past two decades (2001-2004, 2009-2013, 2017-2018) as well, all at Rice-Eccles Stadium on the campus of the University of Utah.

The devotion, the fandom, and the interest in Supercross paid off in a big way Tuesday morning.

Monster Energy AMA Supercross, an FIM World Championship, released its 2020 race schedule, listing Salt Lake City as host of next season’s World Finale.

The season-ending race will be televised on NBC on Saturday, May 2, 2020, and according Utah Sports Commission president and CEO Jeff Robbins, it will be the largest sporting event held in the Beehive State since the 2002 Winter Olympic Games.

“Utah has a long history of hosting Supercross events and other major international sporting events, including the Olympic Winter Games," Robbins said. “The season finale will be one of the biggest sporting events ever held in Utah, driving tremendous economic impact and media value to our great state. We are excited to welcome back the top riders in the world and their terrific fans to Utah."

The event, which will be held at Rice-Eccles Stadium, is expected to have an overall media value of $15-20 million dollars and an anticipated economic impact of over $80 million.

“This is a great win for Utah,” Robbins said. “We’ve been working on this for a while. Like all events, it takes a lot of teamwork and a lot of partnering. We view this event as part of our sports and Olympic legacy.”

The World Finale will bring to a close a series of 17 events featuring many of the best riders in the world, including 2019 450SX champion Cooper Webb, as well as Eli Tomac, Marvin Musquin, Ken Roczen and Jason Anderson, to name a few.

“Monster Energy AMA Supercross, an FIM World Championship, is where the best riders in the world battle for the ‘number one’ plate. It is a demanding and intense series of 17 events in just 18 weeks,” Jorge Viegas, FIM president, said. “(It is) demanding for the riders and teams, yet exciting for the fans worldwide, who cannot wait to see their heroes enter the stadium and challenge the track.”

Salt Lake City will be the first city in 23 years, aside from Las Vegas, to host the World Finale, as part of a new rotating market approach by Feld Entertainment.

“Our goal is the continued growth of the sport and rotating markets every couple of years. Expanding Supercross Futures events and moving the finale to a new location helps keep the series fresh and exciting for the fans, as well as for the race teams and athletes,” Todd Jendro, vice president of operations for motorsports, Feld Entertainment, said. “Utah has become synonymous with elite, world-class sporting events and we thought hosting the finale in Salt Lake City would be a fitting choice.”

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In addition to the World Finale, Utah will also host the Supercross Futures event, an AMA Amateur National Championship, which will take place on Sunday, May 3, with close to 800 riders competing.

“The Futures event brings in hundreds of riders, and is kind of a grassroots movement where the next generation will have the opportunity to race the same course as the world’s best,” said Robbins. “With the mechanics, the things it takes to support all of those riders, the benefit of this event goes up significantly. This is huge for Utah.”