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Memorial Stadium Renovation Design Continues to Evolve

Illinois Memorial Stadium

As the University of Illinois plans its renovation of Memorial Stadium, it is taking a closer look at the project’s design features. 

In an effort to modernize Memorial Stadium, the university is planning a fairly ambitious overhaul that will be spread out over multiple phases and bring major changes to both the south end and the east side. Preliminary plans from the university suggested that seating upgrades were on tap for both sections, with the south end including a new football headquarters.

The schedule calls for phase one of the project to be completed in 2019, with phase two wrapping up in 2020. The project could still follow that schedule, starting with the south end, but some changes could be in order for the design.

One of the main features that officials are assessing is how to proceed with the administrative space for the football program. According to deputy athletics director Warren Hood, Illinois is working with HNTB to assess similar projects and determine the best fit for the school. More from The Telegraph:

Look for changes in the $130 million concept originally set forth by former AD Mike Thomas, named this week to run athletics at Cleveland State. In moving the south grandstand to the edge of the playing field, Thomas foresaw a Kirby Avenue structure behind it with four levels featuring an Illinois Hall of Fame, a weight training area in the lower level, spacious recruiting, medical and office areas, and a dining room up top.

That may change. With last year’s expansion of dining for student-athletes, the old dining space is insufficient, but the new location is undecided. And consideration will be given to keeping football’s impressive weight training area below the students’ grandstand on the north end.

“When we did our preliminary study, we had a different football staff and athletic director,” said Hood, “so the first thing is to look at the prior plan and see what changes are needed. These architects have several ongoing operations around the country.

“About eight of us will travel next week to Kansas State and Texas A&M, and then later this month to Kentucky and Tennessee. What’s happened is that some schools (Kentucky, for one) favored the construction of stand-alone buildings.

“Our original plan was to have weight room and coaches offices moved to the south end. Now we’ll study the possibility of attaching a building to the indoor practice facility between the grass practice field and the indoor facility … or to work in the area where the existing football offices are housed.

Certainly, there has been a push for renovations across the college football landscape in recent years, with training facilities–whether they are incorporated in the stadium or built separately–being a major component in that trend. Given the wide variety of projects taking place, Illinois should have plenty of models to consider as it decides how to proceed with the Memorial Stadium overhaul.

Rendering courtesy University of Illinois. 

RELATED STORIES: HNTB Could be Tabbed for Memorial Stadium ProjectIllinois Planning Memorial Stadium Upgrades

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