SALT LAKE CITY — The University of Utah wants to expand Rice-Eccles Stadium to boost capacity by 10,000 seats and create booster areas for Ute football, a school administrator confirmed Tuesday.
The potential expansion is in a “conceptual phase” with no timetable for completion. It also comes with an unanswered question: What happens to neighboring Olympic Cauldron Park if the stadium expands?
“We understand that things will change, but we also understand that they’ll incorporate some Olympic elements into this new structure and expansion and we’re thrilled with that,” Fraser Bullock, former Salt Lake Organizing Committee chief operating officer, said.
The university has conducted some feasibility analysis on a stadium expansion and the cost could range from $40 million to $60 million, Mike Perez, associate vice president for facilities management, said.
“In light of our Pac-12 move, there has been interest in the potential of expanding the stadium,” Perez said.
In addition to competing in the Pac-12, Perez said the school is motivated by a desire to improve the Clark Building, which along with bleachers constitutes the south end of the stadium and is in disrepair.
The project would include new locker rooms and an upgraded area for the Crimson Club, Perez said. The stadium would likely be completed into a bowl shape, with an upper concourse connecting the existing stadium to the expansion. Seating capacity would increase by at least 10,000 and would likely include additional loge and club seats.
“It’ll be driven primarily by the athletic department as it regards continuing success with the football program obviously,” Perez said. “There are no plans as of yet as to when that would occur, but it is an opportunity that we’re aware of.”
The plans will impact Olympic Cauldron Park, which borders the stadium at the south end. Bullock said he was contacted within the past few months about the future of the park.
“We had a very good, collaborative conversation and I understand that things change over time,” Bullock said.
The park was never intended to be a permanent feature, Bullock said. An agreement is in place to keep the Olympic Cauldron Park in place until 2015.
“So that term is just about here and with that we’re looking at those opportunities for expansion,” Perez said.
Bullock said Hoberman Arch and a number of photos and mementos from the Olympics could be moved and housed at the Utah Olympic Park in Park City. But Perez said there also was interest in incorporating the Olympic Cauldron and other features into the expansion design, though it was unclear how.