Making way for the Ken Garff Performance Zone

The week of Aug. 24, 2020, marked another significant milestone in the construction of the Ken Garff Performance Zone at Rice-Eccles Stadium. Eight months after construction began on the expansion and renovation project that will enclose the south end zone and add nearly 5,000 to the stadium’s capacity, the dismantling of the Spence Clark Football Center in the south end zone began.

The demolition of the nearly 40-year old building that housed both home and visiting locker rooms as well as club space beneath the south end zone seating will take approximately five weeks, according to Jared Adamson, construction manager for Layton Construction. It was originally scheduled to come down at the conclusion of the 2020 football season, but those plans were moved up by more than three months when the football season was postponed in the decision by the Pac-12 to forego all fall sports competition in 2020 because of coronavirus-related concerns.

“We have a high-reach excavator that has a ‘muncher’ on it,” Adamson explained. “Rather than imploding the building, this is much safer and it allows us to have smaller pieces of concrete to haul away. We have two excavators with the munchers on them, and they’ll work from the west to the east.”

Adamson added that the material will be hauled offsite to be recycled and re-used.

The Spence Clark Football Center opened in 1982 as part of a major remodeling of the former Rice Stadium. The field was lowered at that time by 9 feet and more seats were added on the sidelines and in the south end zone. The new building was named in recognition of a $1 million gift made by local businessman Spence Clark, and provided new locker rooms, a stadium club room and a band room, as well as the structure for the south end zone seating.

The new Ken Garff Performance Zone at Rice-Eccles Stadium, scheduled to open in 2021, will house both team locker rooms, plus officials’ locker rooms, sports medicine facilities and many other spaces dedicated to game-day personnel at field level, plus a large field club.

In addition to the updated amenities, both premium and non-premium seating will be added in the new project to increase the capacity of Rice-Eccles Stadium from 45,807 to 51,444. The Ken Garff Performance Zone will include suite, loge box, ledge and club seating, and the number of bench seats will increase from the current number offered in the south end zone.

The Field Level Club and Stadium Club, as well as a Rooftop Terrace, also will complement the premium spaces in the Ken Garff Performance Zone at Rice-Eccles Stadium. To learn more about the Ken Garff Performance Zone and inquire about purchasing premium seating, please visit kengarffperformancezone.com.

The Spence Clark Football Center was the only portion of the previous stadium kept intact when the Home of the Utes underwent a major expansion and renovation in 1998 in preparation for hosting the opening and closing ceremonies of the 2002 Salt Lake Olympics. The facility was known thereafter as Rice-Eccles Stadium.

Spence Clark’s son, Steve Clark, was an All-America defensive lineman at Utah (1978-81) who played four NFL seasons with the Miami Dolphins. Spence Clark and his wife Jill passed away last month from injuries suffered in an auto accident. In recognition of Spence Clark’s generous gift his name will be appropriately recognized inside the Ken Garff Performance Zone at Rice-Eccles Stadium, honoring the legacy of a generous donation that helped make the Spence Clark Football Center a fixture of the stadium for 38 years.

Construction remains on schedule for the Ken Garff Performance Zone to open in time for the 2021 Utah football season. After months of excavation, pouring of deep foundations and placement of shoring walls, the first steel will begin to be erected in October.

The Ken Garff Performance Zone is named in honor of a record $17.5 gift by the Garff family, announced in April 2019. An official groundbreaking ceremony took place Nov. 30, 2019, before the Utes’ final home game of the season, against Colorado.