Utah exploring possible expansion of Rice-Eccles Stadium

BRISTOL, Conn. -- Utah's Rice-Eccles Stadium could be in store for a major face lift.

The school is looking into a stadium expansion project that could raise the capacity from 45,000 by about 10,000, coach Kyle Whittingham said Wednesday.

"It's a work in progress," Whittingham said. "There is nothing hard and fast, contracts or dates or anything set in stone, but we’re exploring the possibility."

Whittingham gave a loose time frame of "three to five years down the road," before the project could theoretically begin, but has seen mockups for what the stadium could potentially look like after expansion.

Of the venues in the Pac-12, only Washington State's Martin Stadium (approx. 35,000) holds less than Rice-Eccles, which is roughly the same size as Oregon State's Reser Stadium. An increase to "about 54 to 56,000," according to Whittingham, would put Rice-Eccles in a similar tier with the stadiums at Arizona, Oregon, Colorado and Stanford, all of which hold between 50,000 and 56,000.

The concept of expansion isn't a new discussion in Utah.

In a well-reported article about stadium expansion in November, Matthew Piper of the Salt Lake Tribune noted the Utes have sold their allotment of 32,000 season tickets for seven straight seasons, but, at the time, athletic director Chris Hill came out against the idea.