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University of Utah announces RES expansion plans

The University of Utah board of trustees voted unanimously to approve an $80 million bond to upgrade and expand Rice-Eccles Stadium. 

Utah Athletics unveiled constructions plans and a timeline for completion at an introductory press conference on Wednesday. The expansion will bring RES capacity to 51,444 and should be completed prior to the 2021 football season. 

A prior feasibility study, which surveyed ticket purchasers, donors, alumni and fans showed strong community support and a market demand for the expansion. The trustees approval also comes just before the U.S. Olympic Committee will conduct site visits for a possible return to Salt Lake City for the 2030 games. 

“Today is an important first step in a multi-year process to expand and enhance Rice-Eccles Stadium, and I am thrilled that our community and supporters have come together to make it a reality,” said U President Ruth V. Watkins. “Our stadium serves more than a home field for our football team. It can be a gathering place on our campus for many other events — contacting thousands of students, alumni, faculty, staff and fans to our institution and to one another. I am confident that Mark Harlan and his team will design and build a state-of-the-art facility that will serve our community well for years to come.” 

The $80 million plans involve the demolition and rebuilding of the south end zone of RES. East and west concourses will be connected by the expanded south end zone, encapsulating the field in a closed bowl stadium. Included in the additions are 1,000 bleacher seats, premium luxury seats, suites, ledge and rooftop seating. New locker rooms, press accommodation, kitchens, and a field level club lounge are also in the plans. 

“In evaluating several options for Rice-Eccles, the expansion and enhancement of the south end of the stadium became the best option for Utah Athletics,” said U AD Mark Harlan. “I want to thank President Watkins, the board and our generous supporters for putting momentum behind this massive project. It is a game-changer for Utah Football, as well as for all of our athletics teams that will benefit from anticipated new revenue. We will build this as a community and celebrate many victories in an enhanced game-day environment in the decades ahead.”

Rice-Eccles Stadium has seen 55 straight sellouts, something Utah officials and head coach Kyle Whittingham think will continue after expansion. 

“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,” said Whittingham. “The game-day atmosphere in RES is incredible and about to get even better. The new locker rooms, sports medicine facilities and hospitality areas will be a huge plus in recruiting. We thank President Watkins, Mark Harlan and our donors for stepping up and making it a reality.” 

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