Last Friday, the Division of Intercollegiate Athletics at the University of Illinois announced that Spectra will be the new food service provider of all premium seating and athletics concessions starting next season. This multi-year contract ensures that Spectra will be able to fully implement their mission to “create world-class experiences through innovative and customized solutions” for fans in every venue they service.
This news got us really excited at TCR, as our stats department has been hard at work trying to perfect their formula to replicate the old Garcia’s pizza sauce using only a plastic football they caught from Garcia’s “Flying Tomato” float at a homecoming game back in 1996 (with no success). Spectra has mentioned interest in working with local vendors and restaurants to create stadium menu options that accurately reflect the local fare Champaign-Urbana has to offer, and we’re 100% down with it.
Just look at what they’re providing fans at Texas Tech:
That’s an “Onion string Sriracha burger” and we want it in our bellies. Now.
Given their mission statement and quest to incorporate local fare into the new stadium menus for Fighting Illini fans, here are five ideas for Spectra’s new menus in 2018:
Black Dog BBQ Nachos/Pulled Pork Sandwiches
The Alabama Crimson Tide offer their fans “Dreamland BBQ Nachos” in Bryan Denny Stadium, which are the most tender, savory and delicious stadium nachos around (seriously, go eat at Dreamland BBQ when you’re in Alabama and get the ribs). If Illinois won’t play like Alabama football, at least our fans can eat like their fans. Throw in an option for a Black Dog pulled pork sandwich as another main course option (and maybe some of their cornbread as a side option) and we’ll flip out.
Sweet Corn/Elote Bar
First off, you need to attend the Urbana Sweet Corn festival in the fall. The music is outstanding, the Marching Illini has made appearances here and there, and OH MAN is the sweet corn outstanding. What better way to showcase our native vegetable than by setting up a sweet corn bar for fans at Memorial Stadium? Grab an ear of warm sweet corn, slab some butter on it, sprinkle some salt and pepper on it and head to your seat. That, or give fans a host of themed deconstructed elote options. Sweet, savory, easy to carry, and relatively inexpensive, an elote bar would be an instant hit.
Merry Ann’s Diner Stack
The OG of hangover cures, this Merry Ann’s staple is EXACTLY what fans need to get through a long afternoon of miserable football. Diner stacks are reliable sources of comfort, no matter if it’s 10 a.m. on a Sunday morning or 3 a.m. and you’ve just left KAMS. Picture yourself sitting in the east balcony on a Saturday afternoon, a brisk wind whipping in your face, and a warm diner stack in your lap. Lord, take me now.
Papa Del’s Pizza
You’ve just watched Illinois surrender the opening kickoff for a touchdown, and immediately you think “man, I need Papa Del’s pizza.” In the past, you would need to climb out of the bleachers, walk into the main concourse, and shuffle your way to 1201 S. Neil Street for a slice of comfort. NO LONGER should we need to make that hike. Bring Papa Del’s to Illinois sporting events. Every stadium has pizza, so why suffer through another slice of stale melted cheese on cardboard? (love you, Sbarro’s) Thin slice, pan, all of it. Bring Papa Del’s to Illini athletic events.
Curtis Orchard Donuts & Cider
Anyone that has ever visited Curtis Orchard has come back with a gallon of their fresh cider, and a 6er of donuts. Those will get ANYONE through a brisk afternoon at a football game, or a late night at State Farm Center. Something so soft as those donuts, and the warm embrace of their fresh apple cider is a feeling that only a Mother’s love can rival. Illinois fans could use more warm hugs...these would do the trick.
What do you think? Is there anything else Spectra should consider when building new menus for Illinois athletic events? Let us know in the comments below!