Garth Brooks First Musician to Rock New Rice-Eccles


Kevin Cody

Garth Brooks performing at the Rice-Eccles Stadium on July 18, 2021. (Photo by Kevin Cody | The Daily Utah Chronicle)

By Frank Gardner, Assistant Arts Editor


This weekend, the University of Utah’s Rice-Eccles Stadium played host to legendary country music star Garth Brooks. The concert was a huge success and the chart-topping solo artist had no trouble filling the massive 50,000 seats for his weekend concert.

By and large one of the biggest events in Salt Lake City in more than a year, Brooks’ concert may have set a precedent for more large-scale events at the U’s newly expanded stadium. 

The Road Back to Performing

In a press conference the day before the concert, Brooks mentioned that this show was a long time in the making and something he’d been anxiously anticipating.

Excited about getting back to performing in front of crowds after more than a year of pandemic restrictions, Brooks had to postpone his first show back on the road in Vegas several times. Luckily, the artist and his team were finally able to make the tour a reality and were excited to come to Salt Lake and play in a stadium this size. 

The event took a lot of preparation. Weeks before Brooks was set to arrive, construction crews could be seen working day and night at the stadium to get it ready for its largest performance yet. This is the first time that the $80 million expansion of the stadium housed a musician and a crowd this size. 

The expansion project, which officially began in December of 2019, increased the stadium’s capacity from 45,807 seats to 51,444 seats and included many upgrades to the stadium’s amenities.

As the pandemic took ahold of the United States in early 2020, the project continued despite controversy over such an expensive project taking place while so many students suffered financially from the economic toll taken by the pandemic. 

A Night to Remember

Prior to the concert, Brooks made sure to mention the high temperatures that were anticipated for the 7 p.m. show and urged fans not to arrive on time to avoid the heat. It’s true that at the show’s starting time, the sun was still blaring and cooling stations around the stadium were a sight for sore eyes.

The show did eventually start, nearly two hours late, as some of the heaviest stadium traffic the area has seen in a long time slowed entry to the event. UTA public transit and all roads leading to the stadium were completely packed before and after the concert but that didn’t stop fans from enjoying the party-like atmosphere once the music finally started. 

Once Brooks got things kicked off, audience members were transported by a set list of some of the favorite pop-country hits and slow, soulful ballads Brooks is famous for. The effortless transition between high energy songs and some more melancholy ones showed exactly why 50,000 tickets to his concert sold out so quickly and the audience spirits were high from start to finish.

A genuinely kind and exceptionally talented performer, Brooks will surely be welcome back in Salt Lake City anytime.