Illini Sports Blog

Memorial Stadium Construction Update

If are going to attend Illinois' home-opener against Western Illinois in 12 days (and thereby miss out on the mad scramble to acquire the Big Ten Network's signal), you will be greeted with three big changes to Memorial Stadium due to the ongoing Illinois Renaissance construction project.

The New North End Zone

Memorial Stadium Illinois Construction

The student section (including Block I) and the Marching Illini will occupy the new North End Zone, which will seat approximately 5,000. Note the Zuppke Wall and the Grange Rock were brought forward and enjoy much more visibility than before the construction, where they were practically invisible behind temporary bleachers.

The West Side

Memorial Stadium Illinois Construction

The West Balcony, which will house the new suites, expanded press area, and the "77 Club", will be closed to spectators for the 2007 season. The current press box will be used in 2007 and then be removed at season's end. On the main level, spectator seating will go up only to row 40. An 8-ft barrier separates the construction of the "Colonnades Club" which will go under the balcony from rows 41-75. It may be a little messy in the West Great Hall for spectators sitting on the West Side this season.

The Scoreboard

Memorial Stadium Illinois Construction

Finally, the scoreboard was moved from the north side to the south side behind the main Horseshoe section. Spectators sitting in the tinker-toy Horseshoe "extensions" will not be able to view the scoreboard. The giant signs which used to flank the scoreboard featuring former Illini greats Red Grange, Dick Butkus, Jim Grabowski, and Dana Howard are in storage and may make an appearance in the 2008 season when the project is complete.

Overall the capacity of Memorial Stadium in 2007 will be reduced from 69,249 (72k if demand was there) to 57,078. When the project wraps up in 2008 the capacity is estimated to be around 65,000. The big reduction in capacity this season is not a huge deal—the last time there was a home crowd larger than 57k was on September 27, 2003, a 38-20 loss to Wisconsin (58,495).

Memorial Stadium Construction Photos: Filed under: Illini Football, Illinois Loyalty Photos, Memorial Stadium Renovation
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