UNIVERSITY OF ILLINOIS (WCIA) — A larger-than-life statue of legendary Fighting Illini linebacker Dick Butkus is about to be unveiled. The bronze and stainless steel structure is 12′ tall and weighs 1,000 pounds.
It was sculpted in about six months, but the entire process, from clay to patina, took about one year. However, sculptor and UI alum, George Lundeen, says the actual project started five years ago with small models.
Lundeen also created the Red Grange statue on the west side of Memorial Stadium and creates the awards presented to each inductee into the UI’s Athletics Hall of Fame. Lundeen visited Butkus in person to conduct research prior to creating the sculpture. He also purchased pads, helmets and jerseys from the era in which Butkus played.
When he asked the Hall-of-Famer which face he’d like to be used on the finished product, Butkus reportedly responded, “How ’bout this?” and clenched his face which is how the famous player will appear forever.
Butkus will attend the event. The unveiling is open to the public.
Unveiling Ceremony of Dick Butkus Statue
Henry Dale and Betty Smith Football Center
1501 South Fourth Street, Champaign
Friday, October 11, 2 pm