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Take Two: Ute Fans Thrown another Stadium Expansion "Bone"

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In the first part, we looked at some of the challenges of stadium expansion. Now, we look at the implications of not expanding Rice-Eccles Stadium for Utah fans without season tickets

A few days ago, Matthew Piper and the Salt Lake Tribune helped throw Utah fans a bone by releasing architectural firm FFKR's proposal for the future expansion and renovation of Rice-Eccles Stadium. This is not the first time that renderings of a new south end zone structure have been released, but other parts of the stadium could be seeing future upgrades.

Ute fans without season tickets have been waiting for years to see more spots to open up for season tickets. With season ticket renewals at 98% almost every season, they have been on the outside looking in, imploring the school for stadium expansion. Many of those without tickets may also have DirecTV, with literally no way to watch the Utes. That is precisely one of the reasons why the delay in an expansion project is so heartbreaking to some Utah fans.

With DirecTV not on board with the Pac-12 Network, TV revenue projections have fallen short, and thus less money to each team in the Pac-12. As well, Utah only reached the 100% revenue partnership in 2014, after stepping up with less TV money the first three years in the conference.

These new renderings do give Utah fans hope. It was announced that a new video board would be appearing in the south end zone this upcoming season, but instead two new men's bathrooms are being constructed in behind the north end zone, which happens to be the first phase in FFKR's proposal. The video board was pushed back to the 2016 season for installation, which leaves one to believe as the money continues to come in from TV revenue, and more importantly from donors, the rest of the projects will gradually be complete in the upcoming years.

Most important to fans without season tickets is the completion of the south end zone. The lone holdover from Rice Stadium is the south stands and locker rooms. In addition to about 10,000 more seats, there would be new home and visiting locker rooms, press and media rooms, and suites above the stands. To accommodate the extra people in the south stands, two men's and one ladies restroom, along with restrooms for the suites, and concessions would also be installed. While fans and coaches would love to see this completed first, the price tag for the south end zone remodel is around $30 million, so it likely will not happen for at least a few seasons.

There is also scheduled improvements to the northeast side with moving the ticket office there with a plaza and moving the Red Zone Store below the east stands. A face lift for the west side will also occur with a change in the configuration to the entrance to the the restrooms, filling in the side with glass, and a Red Zone Store on the West side. Another addition would be a gallery and a conference room in the southwest corner of the stadium. Though it was not noted, it seems likely that the north end zone will likely be the future spot for such a video board because Utah decided not to put a new video board in the south end zone.

In total, the projects proposed come with a price tag of about $50 million. That is a $50 million that Dr Chris Hill and the University of Utah do not have at the moment. As more money comes in to the program, the projects will gradually get completed. Not as fast as many would like, but as they are completed, Rice-Eccles Stadium should keep up with the rest of the P5 schools and be one of the best places to view college football in the country.