It sounds like we may have a rough timeline for the rumored renovations at Memorial Stadium. Illini Inquirer’s Jeremy Werner reported on Friday that recruits are being told a new, nine-figure football facility is expected to be in place by 2019. This project has long been speculated to include major modifications to the 'horseshoe' section in the south end zone.
Interesting. #Illini football recruits are being told there will be a nine-figure new football facility in south endzone by 2019.— Jeremy Werner (@JWernerScout) August 6, 2016
As Werner noted, such a potential undertaking isn’t exactly news, but the semi-concrete completion date definitely is. Former athletic director Mike Thomas was openly discussing the preliminary stages (i.e. constructional feasibility) of this new renovation prior to his dismissal, though nothing was able to publicly progress past that point. Those plans were rumored to include a new football-only weight room, an Illinois Hall of Fame, and new offices for the coaching staff. Additionally, a source told TCR that these renovations could result in an eventual relocation of the student section.
The Fighting Illini completed a prior refurbishment to Memorial Stadium in 2008. This ‘Illinois Renaissance’ was an approximately $116 million effort, and it added a remodeled north end zone in addition to a new press box with premium seating. If I had to guess, we'll be seeing a greater price tag for this latest venture.
Reference: these renovations will reportedly take place in the south end zone (left)
It'll be interesting to see how exactly Illinois goes about these renovations, too. There's not much space between Memorial Stadium and Kirby Avenue (maybe 20 feet) so the options will be limited. Luckily, there's a lot of room for expansion inside the walls and down towards the field. Approaching it this way would not only make sense logistically, but it would also presumably put south end zone fans closer to the action.
So when will this next phase become official? Probably very soon because coaches are already implementing it into their recruiting pitches. Although even if we do need to wait a little while longer for renderings, it doesn’t change the fact that it’s a very exciting time to be an Illini football fan.
Would you support such a project at Memorial Stadium? Make sure to cast your vote at the bottom, and let us know what you think down in the comments!
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Illini Inquirer and 247Sports reported that class-of-2018 prospects Tyrik Henderson, Greg Newsome, and Derric Lee were all in Champaign on Friday to watch the team and tour facilities.
Over the last 10 months, four members of the Fighting Illini have increased their vertical leaps by 4.5 inches or more. Moreover, everyone except Tracy Abrams improved their bench press by at least 40 pounds.
"There are so many positives to staying in familiar surroundings," Knox said. "That goes to meeting rooms, training room, locker room, equipment room. We didn't have to move our weight room up there" to Rantoul.
"It's hard to find pass rushers, especially outside pass rushers, whether it be speed off the edge or power," said first-year Illinois coach Lovie Smith, who coached the Bears and Buccaneers in the NFL. "You need one great signature move and then a counter off of that. He has both of those. With a nonstop motor, that's a pretty good combination."