The next step in the elevation of Utah athletics is underway.
The University of Utah broke ground on a historic expansion to Rice-Eccles Stadium on Saturday, Nov. 30, 2019, prior to hosting Colorado University in the final home game of the 2019 football season. The Ken Garff Performance Zone will replace the outdated Clark Building and further the mission of the football program, the athletics department and the university.
University of Utah President Ruth V. Watkins and Athletics Director Mark Harlan participated in the ceremonial groundbreaking alongside a group of prominent donors that included Bob and Kathi Garff and members of the Garff family, the Eccles family and the Rice family.
“The Ken Garff Performance Zone at Rice-Eccles Stadium will provide a world-class experience for our student-athletes and fans,” Harlan said. “This expansion would not be possible without the tremendous support of our donors, and we are grateful for their partnership in sharing the vision for the future of athletics at the University of Utah. I especially want to thank the Garff family for their investment that has made this facility a reality.”
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The expansion will focus on the south end of Rice-Eccles Stadium. The improved Ken Garff Performance Zone facilities will provide a major enhancement to the game day environment for fans. New locker rooms, sports medicine facilities and other football operation spaces will help elevate the student-athlete experience and boost recruiting efforts.
In addition to the updated amenities, both premium and non-premium seating will be added 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.
A Field Level Club and Stadium Club, as well as a Rooftop Terrace, will also complement the premium spaces in the Ken Garff Performance Zone at Rice-Eccles Stadium.
The $80 million project is being funded by a combination of private donations and expected revenue generated from the sale of the premium spaces in the Ken Garff Performance Zone. The Garff Family in April 2019 announced a record-setting donation of $17.5 million toward the project.
The university has appointed an expert team of planners, designers and contractors on the project. Populous and VCBO Architecture are partnering on the design portion of the project. Layton Construction will serve as the general contractor.
Construction will take place in two phases to allow for an uninterrupted 2020 football season. Phase 1 will begin in January 2020 and last through November 2020. Pauses in construction will occur for football games and other special events. This phase will include underground utility and foundation work alongside the existing Clark Building on the south end of the stadium. The second phase will commence with the demolition of the 37-year-old Clark Building, after which construction on the new Ken Garff Performance Zone will be completed by the start of the 2021 football season.