We’ll see what happens. We’ll see what the interest is. —Utah athletics director Dr. Chris Hill
SALT LAKE CITY — Utah athletics director Dr. Chris Hill admits to watching every extra point kick at Rice-Eccles Stadium with great interest over the past three months. He studies the PATs to get a shot of what the end zones look like.
The reason why is potential expansion and renovation of the stadium. Hill announced that a feasibility study will include the sending of 100,000 emails next week to ticket holders, alumni within 100 miles of the university and other folks with an interest in Utah athletics. The email, under the direction of national consulting firm Conventions, Sports and Leisure, will include an invitation to participate in an 8-10 minute survey set to analyze market demand for what different interest levels are regarding stadium alterations.
“The purpose, which we’re all excited about, is to get it out and make sure it gives us information,” said Hill, who acknowledged there are a lot of variables involved.
Hill is hopeful that sketches of what stadium renovations might look like will be available this spring. Proposed renovations include expanding the stadium beyond its current capacity of 45,807 seats, the addition of premium seating options, restrooms and concession improvements.
The structure on the south end of the stadium with the locker rooms, Hill confirmed, is “falling apart” and it’s given that it will be knocked down. Hill added that the south end will be closed in with the rest of the facility with one concourse.
“The survey will cover interest in different kinds of opportunities, amenities, chair seats, bench seats, all the different things to see what the market is interested in,” Hill said. “Inaccurate science but pretty good, really pretty good.”
Stadium size, he explained, will be based on what’s the right size for the university. The renovated south end will have a lot more variety to it than the north end.
“We’ll see what happens,” Hill said. “We’ll see what the interest is.”
Hill expects everything to be completed by 2021, for what he called the biggest project they’ll take on for the next 20 years. Funding for the project is slated to come totally from donations and ticket sales. No state money will be used.
However, Hill will meet in January with officials to gauge interest in using the facility for another possible hosting of the Winter Olympic Games and World Cup soccer.
“If they have interest maybe we can squeeze a little bit,” Hill said. “You know, slap leather and help us, right?”
INJURY REPORT: Utah coach Kyle Whittingham noted that a lot of players were "unable to go" Saturday because of unspecified injuries.The cast included wide receiver Darren Carrington II, safety Chase Hansen and linebacker Sunia Tauteoli. Defensive end Kylie Fitts, cornerback Julian Blackmon and running back Zack Moss were among several players sidelined at times during the game. Whittingham said there are probably 8-10 guys that they'll need to get reports on in the next day or two to learn what their status is entering the final two games of the season.
EXTRA POINTS: It was Utah’s 50th consecutive sellout at home . . . Scouts from the NFL’s Baltimore Ravens, Dallas Cowboys, Jacksonville Jaguars and Miami Dolphins were credentialed for the game . . . The Utes celebrated Veteran’s Day with several activities including a pre-game helicopter flyover. Jacob Salgado was honored as the student veteran of the year.