We are about to see the plans for what an expanded Rice-Eccles Stadium is going to look like. On Tuesday, University of Utah Board of Trustees today approved the U’s request to seek bonding to expand the south end zone at Rice-Eccles Stadium, with plans to unveil more Wednesday morning at a press conference. The Utah State Board of Regents will vote next on the proposal later in the week. We will learn more about the plans on Wednesday, but per Mark Harlan, Utah’s new AD, the current 45,000+ capacity will get bumped up to 51,000 seats, and that includes suites and a rebuilt locker room in an enclosed south end zone. This is also a nice playing card that the state can use for the USOC to try and bring the Olympics back to Utah, potentially in 2030, since the USOC is in town looking at the existing facilities with local government officials.
Rice-Eccles has been at standing room only capacity since before the Utes joined the Pac-12 in 2011, and has been one of the hottest tickets in town since Urban Meyer was on campus in 2003. There is a current waiting list for potential season ticket holders, and it will be interesting to see when those people will have an opportunity to purchase these new tickets. The current proposed timeline is that the project will be completed by 2021, after construction begins in 2020. Chris Hill, Utah’s former AD, kicked off this project about a year ago, to begin getting an idea of what expansion would look like for the school.
This basically means we get two more seasons with the stadium in its current form, and it will be interesting to see how the construction is handled, considering it looks like about an eight or nine month construction project. Fortunately, the current south end zone should be pretty easy to demo, and the new big screen was built with expansion in mind.
I have no doubt that the “regular Joe” fan would like to see more bathrooms, many more bathrooms, additional spots to eat, and less congestion around the concourse. I also think 51,000 is the sweet spot for seats. We don’t want to ruin the atmosphere that is created by Rice-Eccles currently, and I think closing off the bowl will only help.
Of course, we should learn more about it on Wednesday at a 10am press conference at Rice-Eccles. I’m very excited to see what the future of Rice-Eccles looks like, and we’ll make sure to recap it with you on Wednesday.
What are you hoping to see?