Uptown Normal businesses ready for kickoff of Redbirds football season

Local News

NORMAL, Ill. (WMBD) — College football is back Saturday night at Hancock Stadium in Normal as the Illinois State University Redbirds take on the Butler Bulldogs.

It’s the first time since 2019 that football will be played in the fall at ISU.

The return to a normal football season means local businesses are looking to score a touchdown in extra profits from the extra foot traffic.

“It’s fantastic. There’s a certain buzz in the atmosphere right now, everybody is excited about it,” said Pub II general manager Lukus Rokos.

Rokos said the return of football season means extra foot traffic for his college bar, Pub II.

“Especially now that college football is back in general since we have the ability to broadcast so many games on our big screens, we always have a good crowd for Saturday football,” Rokos said.

Pub II is a popular spot for pre and postgame for football fans.

“It’s usually some sort of pit stop before tailgating or the game and we’re very thankful for that,” Rokos said.

A football game isn’t complete without Redbirds gear and Campustown supply owner Daniel Maloney said he sees more business on the weekends.

“Illinois State home football games are my busiest days of the year,” Maloney said.

ISU didn’t play football in the fall of 2020 but played four games this past spring before canceling the rest of its season due to COVID-19.

Maloney said the return of football and other events is a chance to regain some lost business.

“Our sales have already been trending along the lines of normal/pre-pandemic and I expect with football games and other events, we’ll be fairly back to normal,” Maloney said.

The Redbirds are playing a full, 11 game season with five taking place at Hancock Stadium.

The kickoff for Saturday’s game is 6:30 p.m. then the team will hit the road for three straight Saturdays then return home Oct. 2 against Missouri State Bears for a family weekend.

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