Sunday, August 13, 2006

Illinois Renaissance - Memorial Stadium Renovations

Built in 1923 as a tribute to the men of WWI, Memorial Stadium and Zuppke Field face some serious renovations in the coming years. Scheduled to begin the day after the state-football championship game in November, the renovations should take about two years and involve some serious changes to the exterior and interior of the building. The West Stadium will see the biggest changes involving new club seating and a state-of-the art press box. North and South Stadiums will see seating drastically increase. Current capacity is ~ 70k (grey). I think the upgrades are expected to have a net gain of zero in capacity, but the creature-comfort level will surely be much better. Still, when the big games are played we'll find a way to squeeze close to 80K in there again. Changes in white (side shot).

Renaissance: A period of vigorous activity; a rebirth.

Historic Memorial Stadium, the stately home of Illinois football for generations past, present, and future, has seen some of the great performances and games in the storied history of college football. The proud building’s tradition began on its dedication day, October 18, 1924, when Red Grange galloped to six touchdowns, four of them in the game’s opening twelve minutes, and has never stopped to look back. Rose Bowls have been clinched. Memorable games have been won and lost. Great players – men with names like Butkus, Nitschke, Hardy, Rice, and Kittner – have risen to glory on Zuppke Field’s hallowed ground. Recently, however, the venerable stadium, that which has witnessed the vast history of the Illini program, has fallen into a state of perpetual slumber. That slumber ends now.

Today marks the dawning of a new era in the proud tradition of Illinois athletics. The Illinois Renaissance is a rebirth – a renewed spirit marked with perpetual energy – that will lead to the coming glory of Illinois football. Plans call for sweeping changes to the historic stadium, including improved sightlines, wider public concourses, a portal entryway system, new restrooms, improved concessions, permanent seating additions in the south and north end zones, a state-of-the-art press box, and luxurious hospitality facilities.

The renovated Memorial Stadium is only one piece of the Renaissance of Illinois football. The stadium, coupled with the passion and commitment of new head coach Ron Zook, will propel Illinois football back to its rightful position atop the Big Ten and at the forefront of the nation. History is being made in Illinois athletics. Be a part of the Renaissance.

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