As it pursues a new standalone football performance center, the Unviersity of Illinois is putting major renovations to Memorial Stadium on hold.
Last October, Illinois revealed a plan that would lead to changes to Memorial Stadium’s south and east ends. The renovation would have been completed over multiple phases, with a new football training center included in the project on the south end.
On Tuesday, Illinois athletic director Josh Whitman said that the university is focusing on a different plan, which is to construct a standalone football performance center. At a cost estimate within the range of $60 to $80 million, the facility will be located at the south end of the Irwin Indoor Practice Facility. Construction will begin in the early months of 2018 and be completed by the summer of 2019.
The larger renovation, which had been initiated under former AD Mike Thomas, has been put on hold for now. Whitman emphasized that the standalone football facility was determined to be the best fit for the program. More from The News-Gazette:
“That’ll be the second phase of this whole project,” Whitman said of the south and east stands. “We do have some preliminary designs that we’re working on for those. At this point, without a definite timeline of when those will happen, it’s hard to say what they’ll look like.”
This project is another example of the commitment the Illini athletic director has for the football program. It’s also an avenue to keep up with some of the elite programs in the country who have made significant investments to their football facilities to aid in recruiting.
“It does make a difference; I wish it didn’t,” Whitman said. “What it does is, it demonstrates an institution’s commitment to a particular sport, and that matters.”
The cost of the previously-announced renovation was estimated to be $132 million.
Rendering courtesy University of Illinois.