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‘We’ve got one shot to get this right and that’s our absolute plan’: Utah breaks ground on stadium project

Rice-Eccles getting $80 million in enhancements.

University members and donating families participate in the groundbreaking ceremony for the new Ken Garff Performance Zone before the start of an NCAA football game between the Utah Utes and Colorado Buffaloes at Rice-Eccles Stadium in Salt Lake City on Saturday, Nov. 30, 2019.
University members and donating families participate in the groundbreaking ceremony for the new Ken Garff Performance Zone before the start of an NCAA football game between the Utah Utes and Colorado Buffaloes at Rice-Eccles Stadium in Salt Lake City on Saturday, Nov. 30, 2019.
Colter Peterson, Deseret News

SALT LAKE CITY — The University of Utah broke ground — albeit in ceremonial fashion — on its new Ken Garff Performance Zone. Dignitaries in hard hats used gold shovels to turn some dirt on the $80 million project that will officially begin in January.

“We’ve got one shot to get this right and that’s our absolute plan,” said Utah athletic director Mark Harlan.

When complete in the summer of 2021, the Ken Garff Performance Zone will bring significant enhancements to the stadium. The existing building and stands in the south end zone will be replaced by a structure featuring new locker rooms, meeting spaces and premium seating. It’ll enclose the stadium and raise capacity for Utah football games from 45,807 to 51,444. Funds for the project are being covered by donations and future revenue streams associated with the new suites, loge boxes, ledge seating, stadium club, field level club, rooftop terrace and benches.

The zone will also include sports medicine and hospitality areas, as well as spaces for equipment, media and a recruiting lounge.

Harlan said it will be the best facility in the country when complete.

Before the event moved outdoors, a press conference was held. Speakers included Harlan, university President Ruth V. Watkins, Spencer Eccles and Bob and Kathi Garff.