A few years after a renovation plan was put aside, the University of Illinois could take another look at making a major overhaul to Memorial Stadium.
Back in the fall of 2016, the university unveiled plans for a $132 million Memorial Stadium renovation that would be focused on the facility’s south and east sides. The following summer, however, Illinois athletic director Josh Whitman announced that those plans were being put on hold so that the university could focus on the construction of a standalone football performance center.
With the performance center now complete, Illinois appears to be exploring the idea of resuming planning for Memorial Stadium renovations. Whitman indicated that this is a possibility last week, noting that the university could turn its attention to planning a renovation to the south and east sides of the stadium. More from the News-Gazette:
“There are some needs there, of course primarily on the east side and on the south side, probably $100 million or so,” Whitman said this past Thursday at Busey’s 67th Economic Forum at the I Hotel. “That’s needed to make those improvements so we’re starting to wrestle with where that project could fit, how we would pay for it, in our grand scheme.”
In September 2016, the UI announced a $132 million renovation project to the east and south ends that would have included a new south grandstand — commonly referred to as the horseshoe — and a football performance center….
The new project could coincide with Memorial Stadium’s upcoming 100th anniversary.
“I consider it to be one of the most historic buildings in our state,” Whitman said. “It is nearing its 100th birthday. The construction was completed in 1923. It was formally dedicated in 1924 (at a) homecoming game against Michigan where Red Grange had one of the great days in college football history.”
Named the Smith Center, the football performance facility opened in August at a cost of just under $80 million.
Image courtesy Fighting Illini Athletics.
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