SALT LAKE CITY (ABC4) – Full attendance at Rice-Eccles Stadium will be back and bigger than ever when the Utes kick off their 2021 football season this fall.

The reopening of the University of Utah’s on-campus football stadium, which was closed to fans during the pandemic-shortened 2020 campaign, will coincide with the unveiling of the new Ken Garff Performance Zone. The new area in the south end of Rice-Eccles will effectively close the once horseshoe-shaped seating area into a complete ring around the field, increasing the stadium’s capacity from 45,807 to 51,444.

Rice-Eccles Stadium Expansion
Courtesy of the University of Utah

“We are incredibly excited to be planning for a sold-out, full-capacity environment at Rice-Eccles Stadium for the 2021 football season,” said Utah athletics director Mark Harlan in a press release. “We are so grateful for our passionate, loyal fans, who have stood by us and supported our department through a very challenging time. I’m also thrilled for our student-athletes, coaches and staff, who have worked so hard and maintained a high standard throughout everything and will again be able to experience the roar of the home crowd.

Utah’s season will begin on Sept. 2 when the Utes host in-state FCS opponent Weber State. Other home contests on the slate include Washington State, Arizona State, UCLA, Oregon, and Colorado.

While the kickoff time for the opener has not been set, many of the Utes’ dates to appear on national television were announced on Thursday.

Playing just a five-game schedule in 2020, the Utes finished with a winning mark of 3-2 and elected to not participate in a bowl game. With 20 starters returning to the squad and a bevy of experienced talent transferring to the program this spring, it is likely that Utah will be projected as a formidable team among Pac-12 schools in the fall.

The Utes, however, will be without Ty Jordan, winner of the 2020 Offensive Freshman of the Year. Jordan, a star running back who had 597 rushing yards and six touchdowns, died on Christmas Day after suffering from an accidental self-inflicted gunshot wound to the abdomen.

The Red and White spring game on April 17 was dedicated in Jordan’s honor with proceeds from ticket sales going to a scholarship fund founded in his memory. ABC4 was told that the athletics department has planned more ways to honor Jordan throughout the season.

BYU, Utah’s opponent for a Sept. 11 non-conference rivalry matchup, has also announced that LaVell Edwards Stadium will operate at full attendance next season.