The Blitzz is on at the University of Utah.
The U. is expected to sign a contract in the next few days with the Utah Blitzz, the state's new outdoor soccer team, which will put the team in Rice-Eccles Stadium for its first season.In order to house the soccer team, though, the grass in Rice-Eccles Stadium must be expanded on both sidelines, which is expected to cost nearly $180,000. The good news for Utah is that the Blitzz are picking up the tab because they need a place to play until their stadium is completed in 2001.
"It's a win-win situation for us. They're looking for a place to play, and they will help us with the funding. It has to be done," Mark Burk, director of Rice-Eccles Stadium said. "We have to widen the field before that can happen, though."
The field is approximately 55 yards wide now and must be 72 yards to house a soccer team. The added turf will be real grass, not SportsGrass, a mixture of grass and turf, which the football team plays on.
The soccer games won't end with the Blitzz, though. Burk said Utah has been in discussion with U.S. Soccer and Major League Soccer and will eventually bring World Cup exhibition games and MLS exhibition games to Salt Lake City.
It is important that Rice-Eccles Stadium hosts more events than just football since it's self-funded and would like to remain that way. That means no tax money goes to running the stadium.
"It's critical that we turn this big facility into a multi-use facility. It is self-funded so we're looking for many, many options to bring into this facility," Burk said. "This is just one arrow in the quiver."
The first home game for the Blitzz is May 19, and they will play 11 home games. Norm Chambers, the U.'s director of auxiliary services, said construction will begin in April.