Illini Football kicks off this weekend!

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Illini Football season is back!!!

Illinois vs. Kent State
Sept. 1, 11 a.m.
Ticket deal: 4 tickets for $49


Grange Grove activities 

Gameday traditions, local food vendors, popular bands and lively tailgating highlight the Grange Grove line up for the 2018 Fighting Illini football season. Grange Grove, in its fifth season, is the destination for pregame activities at Memorial Stadium. New items for 2018 include the Former Letterwinner Autograph Tent, Gameday Genomics for kids and Jarling’s Custard Cup.

Grange Grove opens for tailgating at 7 a.m., and will feature all the pregame traditions of Illini Walk and the Marching Illini drumline with the family fun of tailgating, the Family Fun Zone and live musical entertainment, beginning three hours before kickoff each game day. 

FORMER LETTERWINNER AUTOGRAPH TENT: Each game former Illini football letterwinners will return to campus to meet and greet fans at the Autograph Tent inside Grange Grove located near the Gameday Spirit storefront. Autographs will begin 90 minutes prior to kickoff. Check the Grange Grove website each week to see the lineup of former letterwinners set for pregame festivities.

BAND LINEUP: This year’s Grange Grove band lineup promises to provide the most popular local bands in the Central Illinois area. Musical entertainment begins two hours prior to kickoff following Illini Walk and the Marching Illini band show. The year begins with 90’s Daughter for the season opener vs. Kent State on Sept. 1, followed by the popular tropical cover band, the Boat Drunks for the Sept. 8 contest vs. Western Illinois.

The Friday night showdown vs. Penn State on Sept. 21 will feature two live bands with country hits from Feudin’ Hillbillies on the stage in the main area and DJ Vanic performing in the student space on the North side of Grange Grove. The Homecoming crowd on Oct. 13 will jam to Too White Crew, a playful tribute band performing your favorite hip hop sounds of the 80s and 90s. On Dad’s Day, the popular totally 80s band, The Brat Pack comes to Grange Grove for pregame entertainment on Nov. 3. The final act of the year features Marching Illini drumline alum, Anthony Hish, and his rock band, ZØRILA, for the season finale vs. Iowa on Nov. 17.

FAMILY FUN ZONE: Centrally located in Grange Grove, this year’s family zone includes all the favorite inflatable bounce houses and games, face painting and balloon artists. New to Grange Grove is a science experiment station, Game Day Genomics, brought to you by the Illinois Carl R. Woese Institute for Genomic Biology.

TAILGATING: Grange Grove is open each week to the general public for tailgating. Fans can reserve their own spot the night before each home game 5 pm to 7 pm or take advantage of preset spots through Tailgater Concierge. Tailgaters will be able to pull up on the north side of the lot off Irwin Dr. (Lot 36) and drop-off their items. Vehicles will not be allowed inside Grange Grove at any time. Those wanting hassle-free tailgating through Tailgater Concierge will arrive to a premade 10×10 tent with tables, chairs and coolers with ice. Additional items like satellite TVs, cornhole boards and catering are available upgrades to the service to make tailgating easy for those out-of-town fans.

FOOD TRUCKS AND BEER TENT: Regardless of your pregame plans, fans wanting to enjoy Grange Grove will have access to plenty of food and beverage options with a wide variety of food trucks set along First Street each week. This year’s food truck lineup includes Kona Ice, Cracked, and Dragon Fire Pizza. Inside Grange Grove, fans can enjoy the beer tent, which opens three hours before kickoff. 

FIGHTING ILLINI MERCHANDISE: Gameday Spirit will once again have a storefront in Grange Grove offering the latest Nike gameday attire.  Clear Bags can be purchased, and season ticket holders can redeem their clear bag voucher at this location.

FIGHTING ILLINI FAN HEADQUARTERS: Stop by the Fighting Illini Fan Headquarters for the latest giveaways and memorabilia. Posters and schedule cards for all Illini teams are available each week.

20 Gameday Enhancements
     

Some of the 2018 gameday enhancements are:

Spectra Foods will be the new concessionaire for Memorial Stadium this season. Spectra will bring new and enhanced features to concessions in the main stands as well as for guests in premium seating areas.
For the season opener vs. Kent State, Illinois Athletics will honor legendary linebacker Dana Howard and the recent announcement of his induction into the College Football Hall of Fame.

For families bringing small children, Illinois will now offer a Stroller Check-In two different locations at Memorial Stadium. Fans with families using strollers in and around the Stadium during pregame can leave their stroller at the Gameday Spirit check station on the west side of the storefront, and also around Portal entrance 6 on the East side.
Illini fans in town on Fridays before home football games are invited to a Marching Illini open practice at the Marching Illini Practice Field that evening from 5-6:30 p.m. The nationally renowned Marching Illini will give a sneak peek of the next day’s performance at the corner of Stadium and First St. The Marching Illini can also be found at the corner of Wright and Green playing in front of the Alma Mater statue at 10:30 p.m. for Friday Night Hype.

Fans will find three new cell phone charging stations throughout Memorial Stadium with high top tables able to serve 12 cell phones at each. There will be a table located in each of the East, West and North concourses.
The Legacy Lounge, the pregame hospitality area for Varsity I members will stay open throughout game during Illinois’ homecoming contest vs. Purdue on Oct. 13, to allow former letterwinners to enjoy the camaraderie of the area until the end of the game.  

Former letterwinners will return to campus each week and meet and greet fans at the Varsity I Autograph Tent. The tent will feature 6-8 former football players or other letterwinners in Grange Grove beginning 90 minutes prior to kickoff. The tent will be located just off the promenade near the Gameday Spirit store.

Spectra has partnered with local vendors to serve inside Memorial Stadium. Fans will find frozen custard from beloved local Jarlings Custard Cup, as well as Italian food from Bloomington-Normal’s own Avantis, popular on-campus burger joint Joe’s Brewery and favorite menu items from Portillo’s.  

Gameday Genomics brings you science for kids inside Grange Grove. In addition to inflatable games, face painting and balloon artist, kids will now be able to do interactive science experiements with staff from the Carl R. Woese Institute for Genomic Biology.

An exciting line-up of local popular bands headline Grange Grove entertainment this season. The season. Musical entertainment begins two hours prior to kickoff following Illini Walk and the Marching Illini band show — 90’s Daughter for the season opener vs. Kent State on Sept. 1, the Boat Drunks for the Sept. 8 contest vs. Western Illinois, the Friday night showdown vs. Penn State on Sept. 21 will feature the Feudin’ Hillbillies, Too White Crew, for Homecoming on Oct. 13, The Brat Pack vs. Minnesota on Nov. 3, ZØRILA, for the season finale vs. Iowa on Nov. 17.
Former Illini fullback and three-year starter Jason Davis will serve as the new sideline reporter for the Fighting Illini Radio Network this year, taking the place of fellow fullback Carey Davis who became a head coach for his high school alma mater in the offseason. Jason Davis played for the Illini from 2002-05 and averaged four yards a carry for his career. He also caught 70 passes with five touchdowns.

The 1953 Big Ten Championship team will celebrate its 65th anniversary with a team reunion on campus for the Sept. 8 contest vs. Western Illinois.

Suite holders will now be able to come down to field level at Memorial Stadium during pregame for 30 minutes beginning 2 hours prior to kick, giving them an opportunity to experience gameday traditions from a different perspective.

During the offseason, the legend of the Lovie beard has grown larger than life. For the season opener, students will be able to honor “the beard” with 5,000 replica beards being displayed in the student section.

This year, fans in the stands can follow along with time out length on the field with a special countdown clock in the portals at sections 116 and 117 (for the first three games, the countdown clock will be located on the main video board with permanent structures in place fo the remainder of the season). 

Fans will find a new exciting photo opportunity in Grange Grove in front of a large directional sign featuring all the Big Ten stadium locations, the B1G Championship game and the current location … LITTYVILLE.  

This season, Memorial Stadium has adopted a clear bag policy for entrance into the facility. All season ticket holders were given a voucher for a free back in their ticket packets, for pick up at Gameday Spirit locations, including the store in Grange Grove. Each ticketed guest may carry one (1) large clear bag – either a one-gallon Ziploc-style bag, clear drawstring bag not to exceed 12″ x 12″ or a clear bag tote no larger than 12″ x 6″ x 12″ – plus a small clutch purse (4×5″ x 7.0″).
Season ticket holders have been donating additional money to help provide tickets for underserved youth for the season finale vs. Iowa. The Thanks for Giving campaign took place during season ticket renewals, but fans still have the time to donate and help provide an on-campus experience for kids who may not have a chance otherwise. 
Nationally renowned DJ and producer DJ Vanic will perform in the student tailgate of Grange Grove prior to the Sept. 21 contest vs. Penn State. The performance will begin at 6 p.m. and is free for all students to attend.

Copyright 2019 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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