What many fans have been clamoring for for years may be starting to happen, an expansion of Rice-Eccles Stadium. The part in question is the Clark Building at the south end zone. When Utah added the new gigantic video board prior to the 2016 football season, they set it back presumably for room to expand the south end zone. Utah has sold out every home game for the last seven years (starting from their home opener in the 2010 season, their final year in the Mountain West Conference). Utah also has 98% season ticket renewal, making tickets hard to come by for many fans.
This announcement in no way means Utah is going to expand Rice-Eccles Stadium. They instead want to get an idea if it is possible to raise the funds necessary and if it makes fiscal sense to spend the money to expand. It is worth remembering that universities make far more money from television contracts compared to ticket sales. Having seven straight years of sellouts is also a perk many universities do not enjoy. It would not make sense to add more seats if they are going to sit empty for half the season.
Personally, I think the demand is there, especially with high profile opponents coming to Salt Lake City on a regular basis. ESPN College Gameday has come each of the last two seasons as well. More fans would also make the atmosphere at the stadium even tougher than it already is for opposing football teams.
Continue to check Block U for more updates on the stadium expansion news.
Below is the complete press release from the University of Utah:
SALT LAKE CITY – The University of Utah today announced plans for a feasibility study to expand the south end zone at Rice-Eccles Stadium. This review will include a market analysis, cost estimates and funding models. The study is a critical first step in determining a business plan that supports potential changes to the stadium’s south side.
“Understanding the market, costs and feasibility will help us better prepare for the future of the stadium,” said President David W. Pershing. “There’s still much work to be done before taking steps toward renovation. We have to know if the market will support this kind of expansion.”
The study will provide the University valuable data in evaluating demand and determining potential revenue sources, including private donations and possibly increased ticket revenue.
The south end zone is the only area unchanged since the stadium opened in 1998. A reconstruction could include replacement of locker rooms, equipment storage and media rooms, and space for medical services and hospitality opportunities. The study will consider the feasibility of additional suites, loges, fan interaction and concession areas, including connecting the east and west concourses.
Rice-Eccles Stadium currently seats 45,807, and every football game since the 2010 season opener has sold out. Of those 38 sellouts, 35 have overflowed into the standing room sections. For the past seven years, Utah has had a 98-percent renewal rate for its football season tickets.
“We want our football team to be successful and our fans to have the best experience possible,” said Athletics Director Chris Hill. “This feasibility study will help us better understand how we continue to do all of that in the future.”