As Utah fans clamor for expansion of Rice -Eccles Stadium with no definite plans in sight, one Ute fan has taken enhancing the atmosphere at Utah home football games into his own hands. Mark Sargent created a Gofundme page on August 3rd with the stated goal of raising 15.3 thousand dollars to paint "UTAH" on the Roof of the Einar Nielsen Fieldhouse which overlooks the north end zone.
This wasn't just a spur of the moment idea either. Sargent reportedly spent the past six months working behind the scenes working on the design and consulting with the Utah athletics department, painters, paint suppliers and university facilities to see if this project could even be done. After all Sargent's research and work, it was determined $15,300 was the amount needed to cover the cost of getting "UTAH" painted on top of the field house.
In just three days since the posting, the page has been shared over 1.5 thousand times and has had 376 donations, including Utah alum and former basketball star Keith Van Horn's generous $2,848 donation to put the total over the top of the total needed. Even safeties coach Morgan Scalley made a $200 to help out the cause.
The University of Utah Athletics program and Athletic director Chris Hill have been consulted, as was the Facilities Management Review committee, and so far everyone seems to be on board with the project. The University administration still needs to approve and finalize the plan before the roof can begin being painted, but there appears to be no opposition to the plan.
The design calls for 50 by 45 foot letters written in crimson with reflective white paint outlining the letters. No exact date has been announced on when the work will begin on the roof, however Chris Hill has indicated he is hopeful it will be approved and finished by the season opener against Michigan. Hill has also said the University will pay for future repair and maintenance for the new rooftop artwork.
The new script atop the Nielsen field house will add to the overall atmosphere at Rice-Eccles Stadium, giving Utah a unique feature that should prove memorable to opposing fans and visiting recruits. More importantly the word "UTAH" looming over the stadium will serve as a constant reminder of the passion and commitment Utah fans and alumni have to the University. The ability of Utah fans and alumni to raise the requisite amount of money and push through a project of this magnitude in such a short time is a tribute to the Ute faithful and to it's organizer Mark Sargent.