CHAMPAIGN, Ill. (WCIA) — The Illinois Fighting Illini start their football season Saturday night against Toledo, and with the new season comes new traffic patterns and closures to the streets around Memorial Stadium.
In the past, three of the streets that surround the stadium – First Street, Peabody Drive and Kirby Avenue – were closed or limited to vehicular traffic while Fourth Street, running along the east side of the stadium, remained open. Starting Saturday, all four roads will be closed on game days six hours before kickoff, forming a square of closures that completely surrounds Memorial Stadium.
In addition, the closure of Kirby Avenue is being extended westward. People used to be able to drive on Kirby from Neil Street to First Street before turning south onto First, but that is no longer possible. Kirby will now be closed at Oak Street, forming a temporary T-intersection.
U of I Police officials said this will enhance security around the stadium while keeping traffic on the move before and after the game.
“Just looking at the amount of people in the area, pedestrians in the area and the activity around the stadium before and after, it makes it much more safe for the public to be able to get to the stadium, be around the stadium, attend events there without having to worry about vehicles moving through on those streets,” said Joseph McCullough, Deputy Chief of the U of I Polie Department.
Officials are also encouraging football fans to utilize the new parking deck that was built on the east side of the stadium. Located at Pennsylvania Avenue and Fourth Street, close to the Dick Butkus statue, the deck can accommodate several hundred cars. People can purchase parking there in advance via the ParkMobile app.
With Fourth closed, drivers will need to drive west on Pennsylvania to access the parking deck.
Parking lots in research park will also be an option this year, with parking available for purchase the day of a game.