As most of you know by now, the University has admitted they are in the beginning phase of expansion of Rice Eccles Stadium. This expansion will include the destruction of the South End Zone complex as it stands now, a good idea since the place will likely collapse on its own soon. In its place will come brand new locker room facilities, a new Crimson Club area, and some additional club seating. It will also close the stadium into a bowl with a single concourse. (The cost will be around $60 million, the original stadium cost $51 million/$72 million or so in 2012 dollars, thanks WIKI)
The one debatable part, the number of seats will rise by only 10,000 or so, being the total capacity to 55,000. Some on twitter an other places yesterday suggested that was not big enough, that they’d like to see the stadium rise above 60,000.
I’m not in that camp. The experience with Utah basketball has left me to believe that it is vastly better to have too small of an arena than too big and that it helps a great deal to be a “hot ticket.”
Think about the Huntsman Center. It was built essentially because Jack Gardner ruled the University. But college hoops attendance has changed. Utah, at least by tickets sold, doesn’t draw that terribly nationally. But we have this huge arena, that doesn’t feel full until it’s close to capacity, and it’s giving the feeling that no one goes.
This plan for RES, is like putting the whipped cream and cherry on a Sunday. It essentially completes RES without going overboard. As long as we keep playing well, selling another 10K tickets won’t be a problem. And if we slip back a bit, the stadium will still be an intimidating place to play.
This will also help us compete in the Pac-12 arms race that seems to never end.
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