CHAMPAIGN, Ill. (WCIA) — The Illinois Division of Intercollegiate Athletics announced on Monday that it will be implementing a series of changes in gameday operations at Illini football games in order to improve fan experience.
These changes come after thousands of fans were left waiting in long lines to enter Memorial Stadium and get concessions for Illinois’ home opener against Wyoming on Aug. 27. After an apology from Illinois Athletic Director Josh Whitman and a promise to be better, the DIA began a review of gameday operations.
From that review, the DIA announced the following changes for Illinois’ next home game against Virginia on Sept. 10 and after:
- Additional ticket scanners will be at stadium portal entrances
- Fans without bags may now use the Express/ADA lines to enter Memorial Stadium. Signs will direct fans to the correct line.
- By popular demand, fireworks will return as part of the Illini team entrance and after scores
- Fireworks will be shot off as 60-minute and 25-minute warnings until kickoff
- Large water cooler stations will be placed in five locations – the north patio, southwest tower, northwest tower, southeast tower and the horseshoe – for free refills
- Three sales locations will be dedicated to the sale of Dasani water bottles only
- Additional shuttle routes from Research Park and east parking lots will be added. ADA parking will remain available in the State Farm Center parking lots with golf cart shuttles.
- Portal 5, located near Fourth Street at the northeast corner of the football practice field, will be open after games only to help fans exit Memorial Stadium
- AT&T and Verizon indicated they will be on campus to enhance their data towers located next to Memorial Stadium
The DIA also listed several recommendations and pieces of advice for fans to follow:
- Memorial Stadium opens to the general public 90 minutes before kickoff. Fans are encouraged to enter early to avoid long lines and see the pregame festivities, including the Marching Illini performance and team entrance, which begin 25 minutes prior to kickoff
- Download mobile tickets to a smartphone wallet app prior to getting in line
- Fans may bring full plastic water bottles into Memorial Stadium as long as they are factory sealed. Alternatively, refillable plastic water bottles may be brought as long as they are empty and clear.
The DIA is also actively recruiting gameday staff. Registered Student Organizations interested in fundraising opportunities should email email@example.com.
Complete gameday information for Memorial Stadium can be found online.