SALT LAKE CITY — After nearly 2 years and 80-million dollars in additions to Rice-Eccles Stadium, the University of Utah unveiled their new facility Thursday.
Dubbed the Ken Garff Red Zone, the addition adds 4,500 seats bringing the total capacity to 51,444 seats.
“We have been sold out for every game since 2010. This allows 4,500 more people to join the party.” Athletic Director Mark Harlan said during his speech to those at the ribbon cutting.
On top of that, the Ken Garff Red Zone boasts new home and visiting locker rooms, sports medicine facilities, hospitality areas, restaurant, lounges, and a Field Club. It also includes a variety of premium seating options, including suites, boxes, premium terrace and additional bleacher seating.
“I think this place is going to be electric” University of Utah incoming president Taylor Randall said with Athletic director Mark Harlan adding “this is a culmination of so many different people's efforts.”
The university is saying this is a big step forward for not only athletics but for the university and the state.
The new facilities can be a place to recruit new students, hold events, and be a gathering center for the campus community.
One of the crowning jewels of the addition is the new University of Utah locker room a state-of-the-art facility for The Utes football team to get ready.
“Last night I had the great fortune of walking in with our football team to see their locker room” Harlan said adding “it was quite a moment.”
The sole players uniform hanging Thursday was that of Ty Jordan the former running back for the University of Utah who was killed last year.
Upon showing players last night the team tweeted out a video saying in part “inside is a locker for you ty. It’ll be there all season… we miss you. We love you. This season is for you.”
Many on social media and at the unveiling event commented on the touching tribute to the Utes former 2020 PAC12 Freshman of the year.
The stadium itself has been a historic part of Utah and Salt Lake City’s history with many important games, events, and of course the 2002 Winter Olympic Games.
With this new addition with facilities able to be used for all kinds of events, the hope is that the refurbished cauldron outside the stadium can be lit once again for another Olympic Games.
“If the IOC is willing it will again be the venue for the opening ceremony of the Winter Olympics in the future” Katherine Garff, Chair of Ken Garff Enterprises said during her speech.
Garff was joined by many members of her family who all helped make the Ken Garff Red Zone possible, but a noticeable absence was that of Bob Garff who passed away in 2020 from complications of COVID-19.
Bob Garff had been at the groundbreaking ceremony for the stadium overhaul and was a pivotal person who got the project off the ground with Harlan remarking “I think he would be really really proud.”
The restaurant, Suites and some of the seating is not quite done yet but they are racing towards a deadline of September 2nd, that’s when The University of Utah Utes will take on the Weber State Wildcats for the first game of the 2021 season, with 4500 more people to cheer on the home team.