Rice-Eccles Renovation: Moving the Cauldron, Expanding the Stadium


By Joseph Moss, News Writer


As of Feb. 13, 2020, the Olympic Cauldron was moved as part of the renovation of Rice-Eccles Stadium. This temporary move is a small step in a larger plan for better accommodations at Rice-Eccles in the coming years.

On the south side of Rice-Eccles Stadium, along 500 South, construction crews can be seen working where the 72-foot tall Olympic Cauldron once stood. The relic from the 2002 Winter Olympics, however, is missing from its original post. 

The moving of the cauldron is the first action in a multi-part plan to renovate and improve the Rice-Eccles Stadium, and renovations to the cauldron itself are promised.

“Right now it’s moving from this orientation [south end of stadium] to just outside the stadium,” said Shawn Wood, community liaison and communications specialist for the University of Utah. 

Wood said the new location of the cauldron will be outside the fenced area on the north side of the stadium to allow the public easier access to see the monument. The website promoting the renovation promises the cauldron “will be placed on a higher pedestal and refurbished in place to be unveiled in time for the opening of the Ken Garff Performance Zone in 2021.”

Along with a new location, the cauldron will also be receiving minor touch ups, including “sandblasts of all the metal work and taking out of [glass] panes. … All the panes of glass will get replaced,” Wood said.

Not only will the Olympic Cauldron go through renovations, but the stadium itself will also undergo changes as well. The renovations to Rice-Eccles are part of a larger plan known as the Ken Garff Performance Zone. 

The plan includes the addition of new premium seating as well as bench seating and hospitality areas. They will range from “actual boxes down closer to the bottom, then bench seating a bit higher up that will have a little table in front of you,” Wood said. “One of the big reasons why we’re doing the stadium expansion is because we’ve had about 50 or so sold-out games. So we know there’s a demand for more seating.”

“There are other stadiums in the nation that are almost too big where they can’t sell out. They don’t have a consistent ticket price so they’re reducing their seating while providing these other options so they can actually sell out,” Wood said. The expansion needs to be thought out so that the U does not have those problems, he explained. “On the other hand, we have a consistent base, so we’re expanding. Not by a ton, though.”

Wood said this expansion will make way for more seating in general, not just more premium seating. 

“A different way of saying this is that we’re investing in our fans and the Utah football program,” Wood said.

The estimated cost of the stadium renovation, according to the Ken Garff Performance Zone website, is $80 million, $17.5 million of which came from a donation of Ken Garff family

The remaining $62.5 million will not come from the U directly, Wood explained. Donations, ticket sales, season ticket holders and the general revenue of the stadium will largely pay for the renovations. “No student fees or any money that we get from the legislature will go towards that cost,” he said. 

“This expansion will also support 500 plus student-athletes across 20 sports,” said Paul Kirk, Director of Strategic Communications for Utah Athletics. Kirk said it’ll be done “through new locker rooms, sports medicine facilities” and other spaces within the performance zone.

Wood also commented that there will be different spaces for fans to rent out, and restaurant visitors can enjoy “other accommodations for seating.”

The construction of the new space will take place through 2021 and possibly into the 2021-22 football season, but none of it will take place during game days.

“Students, however, shouldn’t be worried about parking or commuting, as they shouldn’t be affected at all. Most of the workers come in going down 500 South and construction won’t bleed into traffic. However, there may be a few parking spots that may be taken during the time of construction,” Wood said.


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This article has been updated to clarify that no student  fees will go toward renovations.