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Rice-Eccles Stadium
File:REStadlogo.jpg
University of Utah Vs. Utah State - Via MUSS
Location 451 South 1400 East
Salt Lake City, Utah
Broke ground November 1997
Opened September 12, 1998
Owner University of Utah
Surface FieldTurf - (2002- )
Natural grass (2000-01)
Sportgrass (1998-99)
Construction cost $50 million
Architect FFKR Architects
General Contractor Layton Construction
Tenants Utah Utes (NCAA) (1998-present)
Real Salt Lake (MLS) (2005-08)
XIX Olympic Winter Games (February 2002)
VIII Paralympic Winter Games (March 2002)
Capacity 45,017[1]

Rice-Eccles Stadium is an outdoor college football stadium in Salt Lake City, Utah, on the campus of the University of Utah. It is the home field of the Utah Utes of the Pacific-12 Conference. It served as the main stadium for the 2002 Winter Olympics; the Opening and Closing Ceremonies were held at the stadium, which was temporarily renamed "Rice-Eccles Olympic Stadium".

The FieldTurf playing field runs in the traditional north-south configuration, and sits at an elevation of 4657 feet (1419 m) above sea level, 330 feet (100 m) above downtown Salt Lake City.[2]

HistoryEdit

File:Rice-eccles Stadium.jpg

When Salt Lake City was awarded the 2002 Winter Olympics in 1995, it was obvious that Rice Stadium was not suitable to serve as the main stadium.[3] The concrete, timber, and earth-fill facility had been built in 1927 and was showing its age.

In 1996, U of U athletic director Chris Hill announced plans to renovate Rice Stadium into a new facility that would be up to Olympic standards. It was initially expected to take three years to completely overhaul the facility.

However, in 1997, Spencer Eccles, a Utah alumnus and chairman of Utah's biggest bank, First Security Corporation, announced that the George S. and Dolores Dore Eccles Foundation would donate $10 million toward the project. In recognition of this gift, the U of U won permission from the Eccles family to add George Eccles's name to the stadium alongside that of Robert L. Rice, who had funded the original renovation project to Rice Stadium in 1972. Before it was called Rice Stadium, it was called Ute Stadium, which opened in 1927 with a Utah win over Colorado Mines.

Immediately after the final home game on November 15, fittingly a 31–14 victory over Rice, most of Rice Stadium was demolished for the renovation. All that remained of the old stadium were the stands in the south end zone, built in 1982. The stadium did not miss a football season, as the project was timed not to disrupt the 1997 home schedule.[4] The new stadium was ready less than 10 months later for the 1998 home opener, a 45–22 win over Louisville on September 12. The stadium now seats 45,017 and has a 6-story press box.[1]

In June 2010, the University accepted an invitation to join the Pacific Ten Conference, began play in the conference in 2011. It is expected that Rice-Eccles Stadium is to be expanded and the locker room facilities upgraded.[5]

Playing surfaceEdit

Since 2002, the playing field at Rice-Eccles Stadium has been FieldTurf, a next-generation infilled synthetic turf, which was most recently replaced in 2009.[6]

When the stadium reopened in 1998, its surface was SportGrass, a hybrid of natural grass and artificial turf. Earlier, Rice Stadium had been among the first facilities to use SportGrass. A full natural grass was installed in 2000 for two seasons, then was covered by asphalt blacktop for the Opening and Closing Ceremonies of the 2002 Winter Olympics in February.

Football attendance recordsEdit

Rice-Eccles Stadium football attendance records
Attendance records[1]
Rank Date Time Opponent Result Attendance
1 September 3, 2015 6:30 pm Michigan W 24–17 47,825[7]
2 October 29, 2016 1:30 pm #4 Washington L 24-31 47,801
3 October 10, 2015 8:00 pm #23 California W 30-24 47,798
4 October 25, 2014 8:00 pm #20 USC W 24–21 47,619
5 November 8, 2014 8:00 pm #5 Oregon L 27–51 47,528[8]
6 September 10, 2016 5:30 pm BYU W 20–19 46,915
7 September 11, 2003 5:45 pm California W 31–24 46,768
8 November 6, 2010 1:30 pm #4 TCU L 47–7 46,522
9 November 22, 2008 4:00 pm #14 BYU W 48–24 46,488
10 October 17, 2015 8:00 pm Arizona State W 34–18 46,192
11 October 4, 2012 7:00 pm #13 USC L 28-38 46,037
12 September 6, 2014 1:00 pm Fresno State    W 59–27 45,864

Major League SoccerEdit

Rice-Eccles Stadium was also the home field of the Major League Soccer franchise Real Salt Lake from 2005 until October 2008, when Rio Tinto Stadium was opened in the suburb of Sandy, south of Salt Lake City.

2002 Winter Olympics & ParalympicsEdit

During the 2002 Winter Olympics, the stadium served as the venue for the Opening Ceremony on February 8, 2002, and for the Closing Ceremony on February 24, 2002. In order to host the ceremonies, the grass field was paved over with asphalt and a stage was constructed, scoreboards were removed, flags and Olympic livery were installed, temporary seating was brought in (allowing more than 50,000 spectators), and the 2002 Olympic cauldron was installed atop the southern bleachers. For the duration of the games, the stadium was temporary renamed the Rice-Eccles Olympic Stadium. Through broadcasts from the stadium an estimated 3.5 billion people worldwide watched the Opening and Closing Ceremonies on television.[9] The opening ceremony of the 2002 Winter Paralympics was also held in the stadium on March 7, 2002.[10]

Olympic Cauldron ParkEdit

Immediately south of the stadium is the Salt Lake 2002 Olympic Cauldron Park. The park contains a 2002 Winter Olympic museum, the Olympic cauldron, Hoberman Arch, and other memorabilia from the games.[11]

Notable eventsEdit

The Rolling Stones played here twice: In 2002 during their Forty Licks World Tour, and in 2004 as part of their Bigger Bang World Tour.

U2 were scheduled to kick off the 3rd leg of their 360° Tour here, on June 3, 2010, but was postponed, due to Bono's emergency back surgery. They returned on May 24, 2011, with The Fray as their opening act.

Kid Rock and Kenny Chesney also performed here in 2011, and Taylor Swift brought her Speak Now World Tour to Rice-Eccles Stadium that same year.

ReferencesEdit

  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 Rice-Eccles Stadium. University of Utah (2009). Retrieved on 22 June 2009.
  2. Topographic map from USGS via Microsoft Research Maps
  3. 2002 Winter Olympics official report. Volume 1. p. 101.
  4. http://cfbdatawarehouse.com/data/div_ia/mountainwest/utah/yearly_results.php?year=1995
  5. KSL-TV (2010-06-17). University of Utah accepts invitation to join Pac-10. KSL-TV. Retrieved on 2010-06-17.
  6. AbTurf wars: U. of U., BYU to get new fields. Salt Lake Tribune (2009). Retrieved on 2009-06-22.
  7. "Utah spoils Harbaugh's debut as Michigan coach", ESPN.com, September 3, 2015. 
  8. Oregon @ Utah. Stat Broadcast (November 8, 2014).
  9. Salt Lake Organizing Committee (2002). Official Report of the XIX Olympic Winter Games. p. 101. Template:Citation/identifier. http://www.la84foundation.org/6oic/OfficialReports/2002/2002v1.pdf. Retrieved 6 December 2010. 
  10. Salt Lake Organizing Committee (2001). Official Spectator Guide. p. 187. 
  11. Lisa Riley Roche. "Cauldron site under construction", 16 December 2002. Retrieved on 6 November 2010. 

External linksEdit

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