The University of Illinois is changing gears on a plan to renovate Memorial Stadium. Athletic Director Josh Whitman announced Tuesday that the $132 million plan that was proposed in October will be postponed, and the school will instead shift focus to a standalone football performance center.
The original plan called for a renovation of the south horseshoe of the stadium, and would have included an attached football training facility and grandstand. Whitman said that the decision was made after visiting football facilities at other schools, including Oregon, Wisconsin, Nebraska, Penn State, Texas A&M, Clemson, Kansas State and Tennessee, according to The Champagne News-Gazette.
“As we’ve traveled the country now and done a lot of benchmarking, what we’ve seen is most people are creating standalone football performance centers. It makes a lot of sense for us also,” Whitman said.
Whitman said that the school would break ground on the project in early 2018, with hopes for the facility to be completed in summer 2019. The project is expected to cost between $60 million and $80 million, a significant cost savings compared to the previous plan.
In the meantime, plans to renovate the south horseshoe area will be shelved.
“That’ll be the second phase of this whole project,” Whitman said. “We do have some preliminary designs that we’re working on for those. At this point, without a definite timeline of when those will happen, it’s hard to say what they’ll look like.”
The football facility will reportedly include coaches’ offices, a training room, a locker room, a weight room, video facilities and a team lounge.
“Everything we’ve seen in these other facilities, a pretty standard list of amenities if you will, that you see in these buildings these days, we want to be sure we check all those boxes,” said Whitman.