The University of Missouri and University of Illinois have reached a four-year agreement to play football at the Edward Jones Dome beginning in 2007. As part of the deal completed with the St. Louis Convention & Visitors Commission and the St. Louis Sports Commission, the parties also have the option to negotiate a two-year extension following the 2008 game. So the Tigers and Illini are assured of meeting annually in the Gateway City through 2010; through 2012 with the extension; and perhaps well beyond if organizers get their wish.
"It is extremely rare to have an incremental sporting event of this
stature added to a community's annual sports calendar," said Jack
Croghan, director of sports and development for the St. Louis
Convention & Visitors Commission (CVC). Croghan negotiated the deal
with the universities. He added, "The event delivers visitors,
revenue to the Edward Jones Dome and television exposure for St.
Louis. That's the power of this event to me."
"We're looking forward to welcoming visitors to St. Louis for this
annual event," said CVC President Carole Moody. "There's nothing
like the atmosphere of a college football game and if you add St.
Louis' great hotels, restaurants, attractions and nightlife to the
mix, you create a very exciting weekend on the calendar each year for
visitors and residents alike. With a connected, walk-able downtown
setup, St. Louis has become a premier destination for major sporting
events, and we're thrilled college football fans will be able to
experience all that our region offers on an annual basis."
The dates for the Missouri-Illinois Football Series in St. Louis are
Sept. 1, 2007; Aug. 30, 2008; Sept. 5, 2009; and Sept. 4, 2010. The
games will serve as the teams' season opener and will take place
during Labor Day weekend - similar to when the Tigers and Illini
played in St. Louis in 2002 and 2003. For those games, the extended
weekend and surrounding activities contributed to a bowl-like
environment. Not only do organizers see that unique atmosphere
returning, they have even grander visions for the series.
"It's absolutely wonderful to have a long-term commitment from the
schools, which gives us the chance to build this series into
something very special," said Frank Viverito, president of the St.
Louis Sports Commission. "With Missouri-Illinois Football now an
annual occurrence, the series can be a key part of the city's effort
to create special events and ultimately play a role in the rebirth of
Downtown. We salute our colleagues at Mizzou and Illinois, including
athletic directors Ron Guenther and Mike Alden, for continuing a
"We're very excited to renew this series in football with the
University of Missouri," said Ron Guenther, University of Illinois
director of athletics. "We are especially excited about the games
being played in St. Louis with a great facility and expect this to be
a spectacular event comparable with our annual men's basketball game
against the Tigers each December. We would like to thank the St.
Louis Sports Commission and Jack Croghan for their desire and
assistance in making this possible."
University of Missouri Director of Athletics Mike Alden said, "We're
very pleased to announce this agreement. Mizzou and Illinois enjoy
such a passionate and competitive rivalry that I believe represents
the best in college athletics. We're looking forward to bringing
this event back to the great city of St. Louis."
The NCAA's decision earlier this year to allow Division I-A teams to
play 12 regular season football games beginning in 2006 paved the way
for the Missouri-Illinois Football Series to be rekindled. The rule
was also in effect in 2002 and 2003, when the Tigers and Illini met
in St. Louis for the first time since 1969. Behind freshman
quarterback Brad Smith's 138 yards rushing and 152 yards passing,
Mizzou defeated Illinois 33-20 in the 2002 game. One year later, the
Tigers pulled off a 22-15 come-from-behind victory. Both games were
televised by ABC and both drew more than 60,000 fans with 61,876 in
attendance in 2002 and 63,576 filling the Edward Jones Dome in 2003.
Capacity at the Dome is 66,000.
"This is a great series for our program and just as important for our
fans," Mizzou head football coach Gary Pinkel said. "I was very
impressed with the atmosphere in St. Louis when we played this game
previously. It was a big-time atmosphere that was an unforgettable
experience for everyone in our program."
Illinois head football coach Ron Zook said, "There's nothing like
rivalries in college football to create excitement for both the fans
and players. And from what I understand this game against Missouri
in St. Louis does just that. I had the opportunity to see Illini
fans come out in droves in St. Louis during the Final Four. We hope
to see that same electricity beginning in 2007."
Ticket information and kickoff times for the Missouri-Illinois
Football Series will be announced at a later date. Businesses and
individuals interested in sponsorship opportunities can call the
Sports Commission at 314-992-0683. The Sports Commission and the CVC
will share game marketing and management responsibilities. The CVC
operates the Edward Jones Dome. Both organizations were part of the
St. Louis Organizing Committee for the 2005 NCAA Final Four.
"The Edward Jones Dome was built to such flexible standards so we
could have the opportunity to host a special event like this," Moody
said. "Throughout the year the Dome handles conventions and
tradeshows and Rams football, plus sporting events such as the NCAA
basketball Regionals and Final Four. Now with the Missouri-Illinois
Football Series, the facility's schedule is even more impressive."
Taking it back to the football field 2007
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