Friday was a great day for Utah football, and not because the Utes held their annual Red-White Game. The program announced a record gift of $17.5 million to fund a planned renovation and expansion of Rice-Eccles Stadium.
The donation comes from the family of Ken Garff, a Utes donor who opened his first car dealership in 1932 and whose family now owns 50 luxury dealerships nationwide, ranking among the top 10 nationally. Ken Garff died in 1997.
“The success of our student-athletes and our department relies on the extraordinary generosity of our supporters and the Garff Family has been instrumental in elevating Utah Athletics to unimaginable heights,” Utah AD Mark Harlan said in a statement. “This transformational commitment from the Garffs will impact thousands of student-athletes, staff, coaches and fans for years to come and we are forever grateful for their kindness and support of our University.”
The donation will fund roughly half of the fundraising portion of the project. With the Garffs’ $17.5 million, donors have now contributed $32 million of the necessary $35 million. The remaining $45 million of the $80 million project will come from various revenue streams accessible to the athletics department.
The renovation, announced last November, will update the only untouched portion of Rice-Eccles Stadium, which opened in 1998. The project will enclose the stadium’s south end zone, boost capacity from 45,807 to 51,444, install revenue-generating luxury boxes and seating, while also replacing the Utes’ locker rooms, coaches offices, training rooms, meeting spaces and all other types of space necessary to run a modern football program.
Construction will begin after the Utes’ final 2020 home game and is slated to be complete in time for the following season.