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ISU Looking to Add Police Staff for Football Games

With an improved Hancock Stadium, Illinois State expects bigger crowds this year-- which means more crowd control.
It's a football tradition that some enjoy almost as much as the game itself--tailgating.  With an improved Hancock Stadium, Illinois State expects bigger crowds this year-- which means more crowd control.

Big changes to the seating arrangement at Hancock Stadium also means big changes are coming for tailgaters at ISU.

"Football on a Saturday on a college campus in America is something that's uniquely American. We thought we'd just update our existing policies and make the changes we thought we needed to maybe handle some bigger crowds," said Larry Lyons, athletic director for ISU.

Hancock's capacity rises to more than 15,000 fans this fall. That could more than double the gate numbers from last years, when renovations to the bleachers were still underway.

"It's no different than Champaign-Urbana or South Bend or Ann Arbor, or you pick a place that has some college football," said Lyons. "It's all relative to scale, the things that you're dealing with."

To make things easier, ISU turned to the Normal Police Department for help with their five home games.

In addition to all of ISU's officers working, the athletic department hopes to bring in sheriff's reserves and have 12 Normal officers work overtime,

At $54 an hour for overtime, and 8 hours per game, the school could be paying an extra $25,000 for football games this year.

"The ISU PD felt like they needed some help because we have a stadium that's right by a state highway. So, we needed some help with traffic control, we needed some help with pedestrians crossing the highway from the east side to the west side of campus," said Lyons.

And of course, all of these things are subject to change. Normal police say if they don't have a contract in place by Sept. 21, they won't be working any ISU games this fall.

ISU officials say while police will be helping control crowds and underage drinking, a lot of the responsibility will still fall on the tailgaters to keep things under control and enjoy the football season.

The Redbirds kick off their home schedule next Saturday versus Abilene Christian.

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