Utah football survey sent to season-ticket holders as Rice-Eccles Stadium experience could be altered

(Photo courtesy of Utah Athletics) | Artists rendition of stadium expansion of Rice-Eccles Stadium, which is scheduled to be completed after next season. The Utah athletic department has sent a survey out to season ticket holders, querying about their social distancing and other preferences for the 2020 season.

As an on-time Sept. 3 start to the University of Utah’s football season against BYU looms, the athletic department is trying to decide the smartest, safest, most-logical way to host a game at Rice-Eccles Stadium.

To that end, the athletic department on Wednesday afternoon sent a survey to Utes season-ticket holders in an effort to gauge ideas and concerns pertaining to what is expected to be an altered game-day experience at the 45,807-seat venue amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

The survey, obtained by The Salt Lake Tribune, is below.

• What is your age?

• How comfortable are you returning to Rice-Eccles Stadium? (Multiple choice)

• Would you be willing to arrive at Rice-Eccles Stadium at a designated time to reduce lines at the entrance?

• When entering and exiting the stadium, what would be your preference? (Multiple choice)

• When entering the stadium, what would help you feel more comfortable? (Rank the options)

• If any, what are your concerns about coming back into Rice-Eccles Stadium? (Rank the options)

• Where are your seats located?

• How would you feel most comfortable regarding your seats for the 2020 football season? (Rank the options)

• In trying to maintain social distancing, what would be your preference regarding restrooms? (Rank the options)

• If changes were made regarding food at Rice-Eccles Stadium, what would be your preference? (Select all that apply)

• How do you want to receive communication about returning to the stadium and game-day instructions?

• How do you plan to travel to football games this year?

Scott Kull, Utah’s deputy athletics director for external operations, told The Tribune Wednesday that the survey went out to 8,000 season-ticket accounts, totaling roughly 31,000 season tickets. That represents the vast majority of, if not every season ticket currently signed up for the 2020 season. Utah can sell 32,500 season tickets as part of its full capacity.

In a June 2 interview, Kull told The Tribune the Utah athletic department saw a 94% renewal rate for football season tickets, while the waiting list continues to be long at approximately 3,000. Those numbers indicate that however many fans are allowed inside Rice-Eccles Stadium this fall, it will hit its capacity. Utah has announced a sellout 64 consecutive times dating back to a 2010 season-opening win over Pittsburgh.

Kull, as well as athletic director Mark Harlan, have been adamant in recent weeks that no crowd model can be ruled out, not even a full stadium.

The survey questions, which went out 78 days before Utah’s opener, give substance to the notion that athletic department officials have not given up on any crowd-model options, even a full stadium, however remote that possibility seems at this point.

One thing Kull and Harlan agree on is that, if games are played this fall, they will not be contested inside an empty stadium.

“It could be right until the week before the [BYU] game that we know whether or not we’ll have a full manifest, but we’re operating right now as if we will have a full stadium,” Kull said during the June 2 interview. “We are definitely optimistic that we will have some sort of crowd.”

For what it’s worth, Utah’s six-game home slate is attractive. Beyond BYU in the opener, Utah will host USC on Oct. 2, with potentially-huge Pac-12 South title implications in play, and Washington on Oct. 17.