We've spoken about the possibility for years now and even though there has rarely been any concrete evidence of expansion, news is finally starting to trickle out that yes, in the not too distant future, Utah football will seriously begin the process of expanding Rice-Eccles Stadium.
The Deseret News is reporting that the University is beginning the steps necessary to expand the stadium in the coming years. Though there is no timetable for the expansion process, the school admits it's in the conceptual phase of expansion and has conducted a feasibility study. What they've concluded is that expansion will cost upward to $60 million and include remodeling the south end zone - a part of the stadium that dates the rest of the stadium.
Expansion would bring capacity up to at least 55,000 and provide the program new locker rooms, as the current ones are located in the Clark Building beneath the aging south end zone. There are also plans for loge and club seats.
As it stands right now, the information is preliminary, but it's the first real solid numbers released by the program - suggesting the increasing possibility of such expansion. With Utah football growing, season ticket renewal rate at near 100% and a future schedule that includes Michigan tripping to Salt Lake City, expansion does make sense. There is one caveat, though - the school has an agreement to keep the Olympic Cauldron Park in place until 2015. That pretty much rules out any massive expansion until that contract runs its course.
Regardless, it's good to hear the University is serious about expansion. We've discussed this topic ad nauseum, so, there really is no need rehashing over the reasons why expansion is necessary. Let's just say I'm glad it does appear the wheels are in motion...even if only barely.
Here's a mock-up of what the stadium could look like with an expanded SEZ: