The newly constructed north end seating area will become the primary "student-only" seating area, including the Block I. Plans include an exclusive entrance for students, brand new restrooms and concession stands. The Marching Illini Band seating area will also move to the lower level of the new north end construction. The video and scoreboard will be moved from the north end to the south end of the stadium.
"This new, exclusive, student seating area will greatly enhance student spirit and our game day atmosphere at Memorial Stadium," said UI Director of Ticket Services Jason Heggemeyer. "By seating our students in the north end zone, the entire stadium will be able to feed off the enthusiasm that our students bring to each and every game."
Illini football coach Ron Zook understands the importance of student support at the games.
"I am excited about the new plans for Memorial Stadium," Zook said. "This special section gives our students a chance to strongly impact the atmosphere at Memorial Stadium. Our students give our players such a boost of energy on Saturdays and their support and enthusiasm will play a large part in the building of this program and making Memorial Stadium a difficult place for our opponents to play."
DIA officials met with leaders of several student groups, including the student representative on the Board of Trustees, the Athletic Board of Control, Illini Pride, Panhellenic Council and the Student-Athlete Advisory Committee, regarding the move and received some very favorable feedback.
"What most excites me about the new student section is that it will give Illinois students the opportunity to have their spirit for football become something that is recognized and known throughout college football," said Panhellenic President Kimberly Verest.
"As a student, I can't help but be excited about the proposed changes at Memorial Stadium," said BOT student representative Nick Klitzing. "The creation of a new student section on the north end of the stadium will create an environment that Illinois athletes and fans will love but one which opposing teams will fear. The changes in Memorial Stadium typify the bright future of Illinois football. I am excited to begin a new era."
"The thing that most excites me about the new student section at Memorial Stadium is the sense of unity that it will potentially provide for U of I students," said Erin McKeague, vice president of Illini Pride. "This new setup presents a great opportunity to really bring students together, and I feel that the atmosphere will also foster a huge amount of school spirit and bring a lot of excitement to the experience of an Illini football game."
The UI Athletics Ticket Office will personally contact season ticket holders whose seat locations will be changed because of construction with additional information in the coming weeks.