New student section relocated for fall

By Julian Scharman

Up until moments before kickoff for the 2007 Fighting Illini football season, engineers and construction workers will be working feverishly to erect a student-fan, consolidated single section.

As the first installment of the $116 million Memorial Stadium face lift dubbed the “Illinois Renaissance” project, the new, revamped student section will be erected on the north side of the stadium.

The section, arranged to have a student-fan-only entrance, new concessions and rest rooms, will be ready to be occupied by boisterous Illinois football fans beginning in fall 2007.

One of the primary motives behind the relocation of student-fan seating was noise. The students voices are not being heard within the confines of the current section, said Kent Brown, sports information director at the University. Students on the east side were only really heard by the spectators on the west side of the stadium. So following the relocation, the noise will instead be directed at the entire stadium, Brown said.

“I don’t think there’s any questions that students are the ones that ignite the enthusiasm in the stadium,” Brown said. “And the Block-I now has an opportunity to be seen and heard by the entire stadium, instead of just half.”

Kolbe Kasper, senior in AHS and president of Block-I, the primary football student-fan organization, said that the change is a great decision, even though it may be met with negative reactions from students.

“It is basically being catered directly toward the students,” Kasper said. “So everything that is being put in there is to help create a great environment for the students, and will ultimately improve all parts of student-fan life.”

However, the harsh reality of watching a football game at any other spot than the 50-yard line is that visibility is compromised, said Reid Snyder, junior in ACES.

“It is obviously harder to see the whole field from the end zone rather than the 50,” Snyder said. “And if you’re playing defense on the other end of the field, the student section plays a much smaller role in crowd noise.”

Some people have questioned the need to separate students and other spectators because of heckling, but Kasper said that heckling is a non-issue.

“Anywhere you go in a stadium that plays football, basketball, soccer, or whatever there will always be heckling going on,” said Kasper. “And if you go to professional games you have grown parents out there yelling whatever they want to whoever they want.”

Memorial Stadium was constructed in 1923 and will need to have it’s infrastructure amended and updated, including modifications made to the plumbing, electrical, telecommunication and concession stands.

“A lot of the changes being made are things that people may not always notice or see it at work,” Brown said. “A lot of these things need to be updated to today’s standards to be keep this stadium as a viable facility for the future.”

Other amenities in the list of Memorial Stadium upgrades include a revamped press box, luxury suites, club seating areas and new concession stands.