SALT LAKE CITY — The University of Utah board of trustees approved an $80 million bonding plan to upgrade and expand Rice-Eccles Stadium, primarily the home for the school’s football team.
The board voted unanimously Tuesday to approve athletic revenue covering the bond debt apart from any state funding.
Planned expansion would demolish the current structure in the south end zone and rebuild it, connecting it to the east and west grandstands. The new structure would increase attendance at the stadium from 45,807 to 51,444.
The south end zone structure is the only piece remaining from original 1982 construction and was retained in a 1998 expansion ahead of the 2002 Winter Olympics, which had opening and closing ceremonies at the venue.
Construction is set to begin after the 2020 football season and be completed in August 2021. Athletic Director Mark Harlan says the project also will be supported by $35 million in private donations.
The expansion will bring the addition of 1,000 chair or bleacher seats, as well as premium seating in luxury suites and loge boxes, as well as club, ledge and rooftop seating. Locker and meeting rooms below the current south end zone stands will be replaced with new locker rooms for the home and visiting teams, rooms for coaches and officials, and rooms for athletic training, equipment, press operations and the Utah marching band. A kitchen, recruiting lounge, field-level club lounge and outdoor patio are also in the plans.
“I want to thank President (Ruth) Watkins, the Board of Trustees and our generous supporters for putting momentum behind this massive project,” Harlan said. “It is a game-changer for Utah football, as well as for all of our athletics teams that will benefit from the anticipated new revenue. We will build this as a community and celebrate many victories in an enhanced game-day environment in the decades ahead.”
The Utes have sold out 56 consecutive football games at Rice-Eccles Stadium dating back to the 2010 season opener. With standing room, the school announced attendance of 47,825 for Michigan’s visit in 2015.
“The stadium expansion will be a great addition to an already outstanding college football venue and will put us right in line with the rest of the Pac-12 in terms of capacity,” head football coach Kyle Whittingham said. “The game-day atmosphere in Rice-Eccles Stadium is incredible and is about to get even better.”