To help fund a south end zone expansion that's still in the approval process, the University of Utah is upping both the price of 2019 football season tickets and the donations required to access certain seats.
According to The Salt Lake Tribune, Utah athletic director Mark Harlan sent a letter Friday asking for ticket renewals. In it, he explained that a $25 renovation fee would be attached to the price of season tickets, and that Crimson Club scholarship donations for fans in chairback seats and premium bleacher seats would increase 5 percent. In addition, fans seated in the north end zone and corner bleacher seats will pay an extra $50 and $25, respectively, for the first time.
Though previously unannounced, the $25 season-ticket fee has always been part of the athletic department's financing plan for the $80 million south end zone expansion, which will not receive any financial backing from the state. A legislative committee last week approved bonding for the renovation.
"Hopefully, our fans will understand why we're doing it," deputy athletic director Scott Kull told the Tribune. "We want to continue to be competitive nationally and in the Pac-12 and provide a great fan experience and student-athlete experience."
Utah has claimed 57 consecutive sellouts at 45,800-seat Rice-Eccles Stadium. The 2019 team will play seven home games and is expected to challenge for the Pac-12 championship after winning the South Division last season. Capacity will likely increase to 51,444, including 1,000 new corner bleacher seats, plus premium seating that includes terraces, loges, suites and club and rooftop seating, as designed by Kansas City-based Populous architecture firm. Set to be completed in August 2021, the project will close the bowl on the south end and create new locker rooms that Harlan has said will be "tastefully done, not over the top" in an era of excess in college athletics.
He likewise doesn't think the targeted $35 million in donations to cover bond debt is excessive.
"The overall cost of a Utah Football season ticket will remain in the middle range among the Pac-12 schools," Harlan wrote in his letter. "We continue to work to provide a world-class experience for our guests while keeping ticket prices at a reasonable level.”