Memorial Stadium Game Day Experience

#3      
On another note, if we can pull off the win Friday, I wonder what attendance will look like for Virginia the Saturday after. We would be 2-0 with a solid road win, weather will (hopefully/likely) be great that time of year and the 3:00 pm start time should bring in a few extra fans. Student turnout for Wyoming was excellent, so it will likely depend on how many casual fans are excited. Considering we drew nearly 38k for Wyoming, I am going to predict that we pull 42k for Virginia if we lose a close one on Friday and 45k if we can win.

If we can somehow beat Indiana AND Virginia (and Chattanooga) and play Wisconsin tough in Madison, I will boldly predict that a 4-1 Illini team sells out vs. Iowa. :)
 
#4      

illini80

Forgottonia
Good to see from Josh Whitman. If it were a one-off thing it wouldn't be that big of a deal. But the fact that this is happening two years in a row is significant. Glad they will be addressing the situation.
I think it’s good and appropriate that he responded. IMO, there need to be some staffing changes on that end and I admittedly have no idea who those people are. There will be a few fans who may be hesitant to return due to a bad experience. We don’t have the luxury of losing a single fan. The crowd was about what was predicted, so there is just no excuse for being ill prepared for the second time in 12 months. We’ve talked a lot about being creative to get people into the stadium. Creative and competent are different sides of the same page. Again, there’s no excuse and it should never happen again. I hope Josh takes the same kind of decisive action we’ve admired him for in other matters.
 
#5      

KrushCow31

Former Krush Cow
Chicago, IL
White Sox have had these issues all season and have not once acknowledged it or tried to fix it. Nice to see this addressed.
 
#6      

Cook

Richmond, VA
Good to see from Josh Whitman. If it were a one-off thing it wouldn't be that big of a deal. But the fact that this is happening two years in a row is significant. Glad they will be addressing the situation.
Stand up move and glad he's putting his attention on getting it fixed. However:
1. there have been consistent issues for more than 2 years
2. it shouldn't have taken such a mess and backlash happening to drive necessary improvements
This is after all the most significant event you have. A home football game is your highest profile showcase and potential money maker. So how in the world has it been so poorly managed or neglected? Still a good bit of tsk tsk for Josh/DIA on this.
 
#7      

APS iMBA

Urbana, IL
Good to see from Josh Whitman. If it were a one-off thing it wouldn't be that big of a deal. But the fact that this is happening two years in a row is significant. Glad they will be addressing the situation.

Everyone showed up all at once, and were using digital tickets which they hadn't pre-downloaded. It brought the cell phone and wifi bandwidth to a stand-still. If people pre-loaded their tickets this would be far less of a problem. I doubt cell providers are going to add permanent capacity increases just for sporting events.
 
#8      
I think it’s good and appropriate that he responded. IMO, there need to be some staffing changes on that end and I admittedly have no idea who those people are. There will be a few fans who may be hesitant to return due to a bad experience. We don’t have the luxury of losing a single fan. The crowd was about what was predicted, so there is just no excuse for being ill prepared for the second time in 12 months. We’ve talked a lot about being creative to get people into the stadium. Creative and competent are different sides of the same page. Again, there’s no excuse and it should never happen again. I hope Josh takes the same kind of decisive action we’ve admired him for in other matters.
I have extended family who recently moved to Champaign. Not Illini fans previously, but were excited to come check it out (we brought them along with our extra two tickets from family four pack). Things were good through the tailgate, right up until we got to the stadium. There are fans on the fringes, and this type of crap will absolutely keep them away. It's been happening for toooooo long. Was it 2018 or 19 when they gave out free food after one of the weeks because it was such a terrible concession experience? And yet it persists. When you struggle to get 40k in the stadium without half of them being fans of the opposing team, it's time to completely revamp the experience. I know the product on the field is issue 1A, but this stuff matters too. Please make it easier for me to convince friends and family to come to these games!
 
#9      
On another note, if we can pull off the win Friday, I wonder what attendance will look like for Virginia the Saturday after. We would be 2-0 with a solid road win, weather will (hopefully/likely) be great that time of year and the 3:00 pm start time should bring in a few extra fans. Student turnout for Wyoming was excellent, so it will likely depend on how many casual fans are excited. Considering we drew nearly 38k for Wyoming, I am going to predict that we pull 42k for Virginia if we lose a close one on Friday and 45k if we can win.

If we can somehow beat Indiana AND Virginia (and Chattanooga) and play Wisconsin tough in Madison, I will boldly predict that a 4-1 Illini team sells out vs. Iowa. :)
Agree north endzone student section looked pretty good but... The endzone is roughly 5000 seats which equates to around 10% of the student population (assuming completely packed). I would hope that at some point we can get more student attendance than that. Although, as of 2019 student attendance was <3% of student population. Not saying I know the answer but hopefully someone figures it out.
 
#10      

Ransom Stoddard

Ordained Dudeist Priest
Bloomington, IL

I received a feedback request from the DIA a few hours after the game and expressed roughly what JW addressed. Bottlenecks getting into the stadium in particular should never happen--but the fact that everyone on the east side seems to have to go through the south gate makes this a difficult ask. Back in the day when the whole east side was open it was a lot easier, but the practice field negates this so there's a very narrow choke point, with only 5 or 6 bag check stations and maybe the same number or a few more ticket checkers. I arrived at the stadium about an hour before kick (pro-tip--bad idea on a hot sunny day), and it was still kind of slow getting through even then because the QR code reader in my line was having trouble with several people's phones.

BTW, is there a way into the east side from the north of the stadium? Waaaay back in the day there was kind of a "secret" way in through IMPE that we used once or twice, but obv that would require a student ID if it's even still there.

And FWIW, traffic control after the game was pretty poor from the lots on Goodwin. In one case the LEO was just resting against his vehicle watching as people tried to figure out if they could go or not, then seemed to reluctantly go put on his hi-vis gear and head out to the intersection. Maybe more a statement on that particular person than the system, but it wasn't much better at the intersection with St. Mary's several minutes later. Maybe it's because there was a steady stream of exits beginning in the 3rd quarter so there wasn't a mass exodus as there would be for a close game.
 
#11      

Ransom Stoddard

Ordained Dudeist Priest
Bloomington, IL
Agree north endzone student section looked pretty good but... The endzone is roughly 5000 seats which equates to around 10% of the student population (assuming completely packed). I would hope that at some point we can get more student attendance than that. Although, as of 2019 student attendance was <3% of student population. Not saying I know the answer but hopefully someone figures it out.
Small steps. If the turnout filled 80% of the student section (like it appeared to be) for Wyoming, hopefully the higher-stakes games will generate more enthusiasm.

Tangentially, I'm wondering if the "elimination" of the Daniels Street bars has any correlation to higher student attendance? It was really weird seeing a huge new building instead of those tatty old bars, both there and on Sixth where R&R/Firehouse and House of Chin used to be. I shed a tear.
 
#12      
I think it’s good and appropriate that he responded. IMO, there need to be some staffing changes on that end and I admittedly have no idea who those people are. There will be a few fans who may be hesitant to return due to a bad experience. We don’t have the luxury of losing a single fan. The crowd was about what was predicted, so there is just no excuse for being ill prepared for the second time in 12 months. We’ve talked a lot about being creative to get people into the stadium. Creative and competent are different sides of the same page. Again, there’s no excuse and it should never happen again. I hope Josh takes the same kind of decisive action we’ve admired him for in other matters.
Is Spectra still the concession vendor? Are they in charge of the check out systems and the workers hired or is it DIA? Some things that should be looked into to start fixing whatever is wrong.
 
#13      

pruman91

Paducah, Ky
How do the colleges with in excess of 100 K fans do it ???????.............I would make some calls if I were JW to Happy valley or other places and get some info on this issue......We need to make the peeps who make an effort to attend these games happy ............bottom line or attendance will suffer even more..........

JMHO
 
#14      
Small steps. If the turnout filled 80% of the student section (like it appeared to be) for Wyoming, hopefully the higher-stakes games will generate more enthusiasm.

Tangentially, I'm wondering if the "elimination" of the Daniels Street bars has any correlation to higher student attendance? It was really weird seeing a huge new building instead of those tatty old bars, both there and on Sixth where R&R/Firehouse and House of Chin used to be. I shed a tear.
Bar closings might actually have some effect. It was a DIA concern that large amount of students were going to the bars to watch the game instead of to the stadium.
 
#15      

Ransom Stoddard

Ordained Dudeist Priest
Bloomington, IL
How do the colleges with in excess of 100 K fans do it ???????.............I would make some calls if I were JW to Happy valley or other places and get some info on this issue......We need to make the peeps who make an effort to attend these games happy ............bottom line or attendance will suffer even more..........

JMHO
I'd be very shocked if JW wasn't consulting with other pro's in the field to get this stuff straightened out, and probably threatening some vendor licenses as well. Slow entry times is one thing, but running out of water (at halftime) on a hot August afternoon is unforgivable. At least they had water jugs set up with paper cups, but still...people were passing out ffs.
 
#16      
Bar closings might actually have some effect. It was a DIA concern that large amount of students were going to the bars to watch the game instead of to the stadium.
I think the answer is always related to better tailgating. My family lives in Iowa City, and I go back to tailgate with my friends for a game at least once a year ... even as a non-Iowa fan, it's just a damn good time! And guess what? We literally never go to the game, we just go downtown to a bar as soon as it starts. However, we would never miss tailgating by the stadium (i.e., we would never just head straight to the bars), and inevitably some people end up going in because we are right there.

Grange Grove and other areas like that need to be must-attend locations. If they are, the atmosphere around the stadium will be so fun that at least a few people who otherwise would not attend will trickle into Memorial Stadium. This is all boiling down to the same basic point, though - get people NEAR Memorial Stadium and have that location be so fun you wouldn't want to miss out on it. If we get good at football and continue to build a tradition of tailgating, the potential is absolutely there (for God's sake, Indiana has been known as a great tailgating destination for YEARS...). I mean, these pictures LOOK like a great tailgating atmosphere, we just need consistency and time to build up the tradition of it:

275.jpg
E9gTMnyXoAAIofC
E6BXH_bWQAAL-YK.jpg
ATH1920_Facilities_MemorialStadium_08.jpg


The only thing stopping Grange Grove from becoming similar to THE Grove is it hasn't gained the reputation of being an epic party yet. Sorry to derail the thread, but there are few things I am more passionate about than Illinois improving its tailgating atmosphere, because the potential with the given spaces is so great!
 
#17      
I received a feedback request from the DIA a few hours after the game and expressed roughly what JW addressed. Bottlenecks getting into the stadium in particular should never happen--but the fact that everyone on the east side seems to have to go through the south gate makes this a difficult ask. Back in the day when the whole east side was open it was a lot easier, but the practice field negates this so there's a very narrow choke point, with only 5 or 6 bag check stations and maybe the same number or a few more ticket checkers. I arrived at the stadium about an hour before kick (pro-tip--bad idea on a hot sunny day), and it was still kind of slow getting through even then because the QR code reader in my line was having trouble with several people's phones.

BTW, is there a way into the east side from the north of the stadium? Waaaay back in the day there was kind of a "secret" way in through IMPE that we used once or twice, but obv that would require a student ID if it's even still there.

And FWIW, traffic control after the game was pretty poor from the lots on Goodwin. In one case the LEO was just resting against his vehicle watching as people tried to figure out if they could go or not, then seemed to reluctantly go put on his hi-vis gear and head out to the intersection. Maybe more a statement on that particular person than the system, but it wasn't much better at the intersection with St. Mary's several minutes later. Maybe it's because there was a steady stream of exits beginning in the 3rd quarter so there wasn't a mass exodus as there would be for a close game.
We got to the game early to tailgate - about 11:35. As we were coming out of parking lot 35 (NW corner of the Assembly Hall) there was a tree that was on fire. This was between the sidewalk and Kirby Ave., just west of the main entrance to the stadium on Kirby. I have no idea how the tree caught fire as there was no one there, no charcoal grill, nothing. We looked for police, fire, emt, or some type of university official. The only thing around, other than fans, seemed to be folks manning the gates at the football stadium. We pointed out the burning tree and they indicated that they had radioed in to their supervisor. We hung around for a couple of minutes and no one appeared so we called 911. An Urbana fire truck showed up shortly but they encountered a Kirby Ave. that was blocked off with big red plastic barricades. Again, there were no officials of any kind at the intersection so we asked if they wanted us to push the barricades out of the way (having no idea how heavy they might be). They responded that it wasn't necessary and proceeded to just push them out of the way with the fire engine. We moved along to our tailgate and I assume they proceeded to extinguish the flame.
 
#18      

illini80

Forgottonia
I was a couple days out from a medical procedure and tried to talk my wife into going Saturday. She said no way. Thank goodness after hearing all this. Just get it right and I think it will be ok but it can’t happen again. Robert had a nice thought of opening the gates, but in reality that could create other problems of people in the seats of someone else.
 
#19      
I think the answer is always related to better tailgating. My family lives in Iowa City, and I go back to tailgate with my friends for a game at least once a year ... even as a non-Iowa fan, it's just a damn good time! And guess what? We literally never go to the game, we just go downtown to a bar as soon as it starts. However, we would never miss tailgating by the stadium (i.e., we would never just head straight to the bars), and inevitably some people end up going in because we are right there.

Grange Grove and other areas like that need to be must-attend locations. If they are, the atmosphere around the stadium will be so fun that at least a few people who otherwise would not attend will trickle into Memorial Stadium. This is all boiling down to the same basic point, though - get people NEAR Memorial Stadium and have that location be so fun you wouldn't want to miss out on it. If we get good at football and continue to build a tradition of tailgating, the potential is absolutely there (for God's sake, Indiana has been known as a great tailgating destination for YEARS...). I mean, these pictures LOOK like a great tailgating atmosphere, we just need consistency and time to build up the tradition of it:

275.jpg
E9gTMnyXoAAIofC
E6BXH_bWQAAL-YK.jpg
ATH1920_Facilities_MemorialStadium_08.jpg


The only thing stopping Grange Grove from becoming similar to THE Grove is it hasn't gained the reputation of being an epic party yet. Sorry to derail the thread, but there are few things I am more passionate about than Illinois improving its tailgating atmosphere, because the potential with the given spaces is so great!
Your last picture looks a lot like this picture of people trying to get into the game on Sat: https://illiniboard-development.s3.amazonaws.com/2021/grangegrove-entry.jpeg
 
#21      

Ransom Stoddard

Ordained Dudeist Priest
Bloomington, IL
I was a couple days out from a medical procedure and tried to talk my wife into going Saturday. She said no way. Thank goodness after hearing all this. Just get it right and I think it will be ok but it can’t happen again. Robert had a nice thought of opening the gates, but in reality that could create other problems of people in the seats of someone else.
Our seats were in direct sunlight and we didn't sit in them the entire time we were there. Under the East Main balcony was the place to be. :)
 
#22      

Ransom Stoddard

Ordained Dudeist Priest
Bloomington, IL
I heard about that ... why was it so much worse this game?? It's not like we had an abnormally large crowd...
I can't say for certain it was a part of the issue, but there were people around us on the way in that weren't aware of the clear bag policy (I don't know how that happens, it's on the freaking ticket printout), and as has been mentioned several times there just weren't enough staff checking bags and scanning tickets and there weren't enough entry points to the stadium.
 
#23      
Sounds like a good pre Stanford game ploy.
We got to the game early to tailgate - about 11:35. As we were coming out of parking lot 35 (NW corner of the Assembly Hall) there was a tree that was on fire. This was between the sidewalk and Kirby Ave., just west of the main entrance to the stadium on Kirby. I have no idea how the tree caught fire as there was no one there, no charcoal grill, nothing. We looked for police, fire, emt, or some type of university official. The only thing around, other than fans, seemed to be folks manning the gates at the football stadium. We pointed out the burning tree and they indicated that they had radioed in to their supervisor. We hung around for a couple of minutes and no one appeared so we called 911. An Urbana fire truck showed up shortly but they encountered a Kirby Ave. that was blocked off with big red plastic barricades. Again, there were no officials of any kind at the intersection so we asked if they wanted us to push the barricades out of the way (having no idea how heavy they might be). They responded that it wasn't necessary and proceeded to just push them out of the way with the fire engine. We moved along to our tailgate and I assume they proceeded to extinguish the flame.
Sounds like a good pre Stanford game ploy...😉Screenshot_20220830-172005.png
 
#24      
I think the answer is always related to better tailgating. My family lives in Iowa City, and I go back to tailgate with my friends for a game at least once a year ... even as a non-Iowa fan, it's just a damn good time! And guess what? We literally never go to the game, we just go downtown to a bar as soon as it starts. However, we would never miss tailgating by the stadium (i.e., we would never just head straight to the bars), and inevitably some people end up going in because we are right there.

Grange Grove and other areas like that need to be must-attend locations. If they are, the atmosphere around the stadium will be so fun that at least a few people who otherwise would not attend will trickle into Memorial Stadium. This is all boiling down to the same basic point, though - get people NEAR Memorial Stadium and have that location be so fun you wouldn't want to miss out on it. If we get good at football and continue to build a tradition of tailgating, the potential is absolutely there (for God's sake, Indiana has been known as a great tailgating destination for YEARS...). I mean, these pictures LOOK like a great tailgating atmosphere, we just need consistency and time to build up the tradition of it:

275.jpg
E9gTMnyXoAAIofC
E6BXH_bWQAAL-YK.jpg
ATH1920_Facilities_MemorialStadium_08.jpg


The only thing stopping Grange Grove from becoming similar to THE Grove is it hasn't gained the reputation of being an epic party yet. Sorry to derail the thread, but there are few things I am more passionate about than Illinois improving its tailgating atmosphere, because the potential with the given spaces is so great!
Wish Illinois would "lossen up" the booze. Been to several N. Dame games...one guy had a trunk filled with Ice and beers on ice.....Cops just walked by, no problem.