Illinoios Memorial Stadium

oak_street1981

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Title type edit; Illinois Memorial Stadium

There is not much more to say about the game, but the venue and general atmosphere deserves to be commented on.

A. Memorial Stadium is best Big Ten Stadium besides TCF; tradition, and fan engagement aside.

B. The Marching Illini is loud, large, full of brass and extremely impressive. The perch they sit on and the shape of the stadium probably helps with the sound. They are the best Big 10 band I have seen in person, and I am not overly impressed as most are with the OSU band. Our band is good but not as loud and clear sounding as the 350 member Illinois band.

I went into the trip somewhat curious about Illinois Memorial Stadium and was absolutely blown away by this 1923 structure. I expected it to be very obsolete and barely serviceable, much like most of Kinnick, Camp Randall, and Michigan Stadiums. (and MSU).

I knew the west side had been renovated in 2008 with the addition of the large wall of suites, loge seating and club seating that replaced the back 50 or so rows of the original 75 row lower west deck.. My seats were in row 5 around the 25 yard line in the upper deck on the east side, which has not been changed much since 1923. The original infrastructure is rustic, but works very well. Later I moved to the top couple rows and the view was still good.

The sightlines in the upper deck were perfect, and the seating areas in the lower deck, under the upper deck were very unique as they had a Williams Arena like feel, but the whole field was visible under the deck. The four corner towers were unique to walk up and down in and the long upper level walkway by the columns was even more impressive than expected. The lower Great Halls under each main stand were interesting, with one being fully renovated, the other in a more rustic state. The bright sun and 73 degree weather made t even better.

They have entry portals into the grounds, not the walls of the stadium, like at Michigan, so there are outdoor biffs and access to the outside spaces, reducing congestion in the Great Halls in within the walls of the stadium.

The cutouts in the exterior brick brought a lot of light into the stadium ramp areas as well. In some ways the original design of this 1923 stadium created an open concourse design, in that it was possible to see the action in the field from unexpected vantage points while moving around the stadium. The band was very good in pregame, and when playing in the stands. Unfortunately the gameday experience has been marred by the infatuation they now as well have with scoreboard noise and piped in music. The Band was capable of creating a lot of sound, and fan engagement on their own when Minnesota approached the LOS on offense.

To recap, the two deck stadium is very unique and blows all the other old Big Ten stadiums out of the water. The University has done a lot to update the stadium without ruining the historic feel of it, like Wisconsin did to Camp Randall in the '60s and when Michigan State created a concrete mausoleum at some point.

It did get fairly loud in the stadium once the jaded, beaten down UI fans realized they might have a chance to win. If Illinois had a contending team with something near a sellout, the environment would be tough to top.
 

MplsGopherFan

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I generally agree with most of your comments with one exception. The sightlines from Section 109 were absolutely horrible, IMO
 

Sam

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I'd have to agree with MplsGopherFan... the view from 109 wasn't that great and my only complaint about the stadium is that even being in the 8th row you felt really far from the field.
 

porter_haus

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We were in Section 109 as well. My Illinois friends described their fan base as "nobody even goes to the games, we just tailgate." I expected poor attendance, and planned to have free reign to move around the stadium. Not the case. Respect Illinois. Especially students in "Section I".
 

Halsey Hall

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I liked the experience there as well. However, their practice facilities are even better
 

WorkingMyTailOff

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There's no reason why ILL should suck at football with the amount of talent in the state of ILL. I like B1G football better when they are a good team and the Gophers still beat them.
 
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