WMBD/WYZZ-TV - NORMAL, Ill. - True, the ISU Redbirds are glad to be off the road and playing the home opener this week.
But Saturday's game is more than just the first home game of the season.
"We're playing for something special not only for us, this team, the program and the community," said tight end James O'Shaughnessy.
The Redbirds are on the verge of playing their first game at their home, which has undergone some 20 million dollars worth of renovatons. They are the first significant improvements to Hancock Stadium since it opened 50 years ago.
"A lot of people put a lot of work into this," said head coach Brock Spack. "Some of those folks aren't here anymore, they've moved on or retired. It's been a long process, I know."
Until this week, the folks on the construction crew are really the only people who've had an inside look at the renovations. But ask the players, and they'll tell you they've had a pretty good view of the evolution of their new home.
"We're all extremely excited about it. It's been fun since the summer, just watching it grow and grow and grow," said quarterback Jared Barnett.
Defensive end Colton Underwood added "Coming to practice, you can tell it's louder. It echoes ad the music bounces off both sides. I'm loking forward to it."
The Redbirds will host Abilene Christian at 6 p.m. Saturday.
"Watching it grow is really exciting," said O'Shaughnessy. "We'll be here running sprints, getting tired. But if you look to the right, you see this brand new stadium being built. Gives you extra motivation."