Utah AD Chris Hill discusses latest stadium expansion possibilities

School to conduct survey on fans’ views<br>

(Trent Nelson | The Salt Lake Tribune) The Marching Utes on the field as the University of Utah hosts Washington State, NCAA football in Salt Lake City, Saturday November 11, 2017.

Chris Hill has stayed glued to the TV when most football fans opt to take a breather.

Utah’s athletic director has been watching every extra point inside every football stadium around the country. What exactly for?

“So I can see what the end zones look like,” Hill explained.

Long-rumored expansion inside Rice-Eccles Stadium appears to be taking another step forward. Prior to Utah’s home game Saturday against No. 19 Washington State, Hill provided updates on the future of Utah’s stadium.

“I think what’s given is we’re going to knock down the south end zone,” Hill said, “and we’re going to figure out what’s the right size for us.”

Asked to provide a potential target date for expansion completion, Hill said 2021.

In the expansion scenario, not only would the south end zone receive a total revamp, Hill said, the entire stadium would feature a concourse around the entire facility. The south end zone would be closed off entirely, and won’t “look like the north end zone,” Hill added.

Utah announced Saturday it will conduct a survey of its stakeholders in Utah athletics — Crimson Club members, Utah season and mini-plan ticket holders and alumni within 100 miles of campus — to analyze and collect data. The 8- to 10-minute survey will be conducted by a consulting group that will analyze the market demand for stadium renovation. Hill estimates there will be about 100,000 surveys sent next week.

The survey will gauge interest in stadium amenities and seating opportunities, among other things.

“This is the biggest project that we’ll take on in the next 20 years easy,” Hill said.

Hill confirmed the likely expansion would be funded “totally on the back of donations and tickets.”

Minus two big names

Utah already tough task against the Top-20-ranked Cougars was made a bit more difficult Saturday. Injuries kept out star wide receiver Darren Carrington II and strong safety Chase Hansen. Carrington, a senior transfer from Oregon, is Utah’s leading receiver in 2017 with 830 yards and six touchdowns on 58 receptions. He was a game-time decision after missing the second half of last week’s win over UCLA due to injury.

Hansen, a redshirt junior from Highland, missed his third game of the year. He entered Saturday fourth on the team in total tackles with 45.