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Since the gates to Rice-Eccles Stadium opened 15 years ago on September 12, 1998, fans have poured through them in record numbers. In fact, for the past five seasons, attendance

at Utah home football games has exceeded the venue's 45,017-seating capacity.

The undefeated Sugar Bowl champion team of 2008 averaged a school-record 45,585.

In the four years since then, Utah has recorded the remainder of the top five season averages in school history, including the third-best mark of 45,347 in 2012.

There have been 36 standing-room only crowds over the past 14 years-including five of the six games in 2012. A record crowd of 46,768 watched the Utes defeat California in 2003. The second-largest crowd of 46,522 turned out for No. 5 Utah vs. No. 3 TCU in 2010. Two other games have gone over the 46,000 mark, including BYU (46,488) in 2008 and USC (46,037) in 2012.

With its striking design, stunning mountain backdrop and panoramic views of the Salt Lake valley, Rice-Eccles Stadium is perhaps the most beautiful stadium in the country. The eyes of the world were on the venue in 2002 as it hosted the Opening and Closing Ceremonies of the Salt Lake Olympic Winter Games. It is the third stadium located on the site, predated by Ute Stadium (1927) and Rice Stadium (1972).

In 1996, Utah Director of Athletics Chris Hill initiated a fund-raising campaign to replace aging 32,500-seat Rice Stadium. A lead gift of $10 million soon came in from the George S. and Dolores Dore Eccles Foundation, steered by former Ute All-America skier Spence Eccles.

The total construction costs ran $50 million, of which $20 million came from private gifts, $10 million from athletics department bonding, $12 million from the University of Utah and $8 million from the 2002 Salt Lake Olympic Committee.