Rice Stadium-Top 15 Crowds
1. Brigham Young 1982 36,250 2. Brigham Young 1984 36,110 3. San Diego State 1986 35,982 4. Brigham Young 1996 35,378 5. Wyoming 1994 34,607 6. Brigham Young 1988 34,216 7. Brigham Young 1994 34,139 8. Brigham Young 1986 34,128 9. Brigham Young 1990 33,515 10. Brigham Young 1992 33,348 11. Air Force 1986 33,281 12. Wyoming 1985 33,248 13. Hawai'i 1988 32,892 14. UTEP 1994 32,620 15. Fresno State 1996 32,539
The University of Utah football team plays all its home games in Rice Stadium--soon to be one of the most state-of-the-art football facilities in the nation. The current 32,500-seat stadium bids adieu following the upcoming season: It will be replaced by a sparkling new 46,500-seat gem that will retain virtually nothing but its name and location.
The $50 million project, raised entirely from non-tax dollars and aided tremendously by a generous $10 million lead gift by the George and Delores Dore Eccles Foundation, began rising around the current structure in the spring of 1997. Work will continue throughout the year--stopping only on home game days. The hectic construction pace will allow the Utes to open their 1998 home season in a "new" Rice Stadium. Designed to be "fan friendly," the Rice Stadium of 1998 will be a U-shaped concrete and steel structure, featuring a sprawling concourse, replete with concession stands and merchandising shops. The crown jewel of the new stadium will be an imposing three-story, glass-walled luxury seating and press box area.
Some other positive by-products of the expansion and reconstruction project include improved comfort, better sight lines and wider sidelines. The larger stadium has already attracted some high-profile non-conference opponents. In the coming years, the Utes have scheduled home games with opponents like Arizona, Wisconsin and Washington State.
In 2002, temporary seats will be added to bring the stadium's capacity to 50,000 for the opening and closing ceremonies of the Winter Olympic Games, which have been awarded to Salt Lake City.
The first step toward the new stadium took place prior to the 1995 season, when Rice Stadium became the first facility in the nation to resurface its entire field with SportGrass. SportGrass, a unique turf product that combines natural grass grown on top of a layer of artificial turf, replaced the Astroturf that lined the field for the previous 25 years.
The stadium has undergone numerous facelifts in the ensuing years, resulting in its current status as an intimate place to watch a game. The first major remodeling took place in 1972, when the scholarship box (located on the east side of the stadium) was built. Also introduced at that time was a new lighting system, an Astroturf playing surface, and additional ticket and concession areas. Another big remodel occurred in 1982, when the field was lowered nine-and-a-half feet, with new seats built along the sidelines and in the south end zone. A significant result of that upgrading was the construction of the Spence Clark Football Center at the south end of the field. The building houses locker rooms, a stadium club room and a band room.
One of the newest additions to Rice Stadium is a four-color matrix scoreboard. Nearly any kind of visual effect can be produced by the 4,600 individually controlled lights in the matrix--adding yet another dimension of fun to Ute football.
The stadium--originally built in 1927--is a timber and concrete construction, with dirt fill. Steel will replace the timber in the new stadium. The press box, located on the west side of the facility, was completed in 1966. In 1989, the press box was upgraded and the newly revamped press area was named the John Mooney Press Area, in honor of longtime Ute football writer and former Salt Lake Tribune sports editor John Mooney.
Utah's 1982 game against Brigham Young drew the most spectators ever to see a game in Rice Stadium, when a standing room only crowd of 36,250 flocked to see the annual instate battle. The Utes inaugurated Rice Stadium with a 40-6 win over Colorado Mines in 1927.