Identity at Illinois State Univeristy

8 coolest things about the new Hancock Stadium

8 coolest things about the new Hancock Stadium

The new Hancock Stadium with its new lights on.

It was a long time coming, but Redbird fans will get their first look inside the new Hancock Stadium this Saturday when Illinois State takes the field against Abilene Christian for the home opener.

STATEside recently got a sneak peek of the $26 million project during a tour with Peyton Deterding, Illinois State’s associate athletics director for internal operations. From ticketing to better food to seat backs, there’s a lot for Redbird fans to be excited about inside the new Hancock—top to bottom.

So in no particular order, the 8 coolest things about the new Hancock:

Club and suites

Not all fans will get to see the inside the exclusive Hancock Stadium Club area right away, but it’s a remarkable space. The 5,500-square-foot club on the second level sits at the 50-yard line, giving club and suite level ticketholders great views of the game and beautiful panoramic glassed-in views of campus behind them. The rest of the year, the Hancock Stadium Club can be rented out for meetings, luncheons, and even weddings. “These vantage points of campus are pretty ideal,” Deterding said of the club.

The club room

The club room at the new Hancock Stadium.

Branching off the Hancock Stadium Club are hallways leading to five regular suites and two larger ones for the University president and athletics director. The suites hold about 18-20 people, with individual seats for everyone just outside. The President’s Suite on the far south side of Hancock offers arguably one of the best views of campus anywhere, looking straight toward Bone Student Center and the heart of the University.

Seat backs

Total capacity at the new Hancock is now 13,391. There are around 500 club seats.

But even if you’re not in the club seats, you’ll still have a seat back on the east-side grandstand. Every seat has one. “You don’t have to sit on a plank and call it good,” Deterding says. “You can lean back and relax and enjoy the game. The seating is one of the things we’re extremely excited about.”

Student section

Students now have a dedicated home to call their own. After years of being displaced as renovations got going, students and the Red Alert faithful will have their own section in the west-side stands. They now have more space, better amenities such as food and restrooms, and easier access to indoor areas if they get chilly. “The west side, although its older, is such a far cry from what the students are used to, and they’ll be happy with the amenities they’re getting over there,” Deterding said.

Easier ticket access

Before the renovations, ticketing on the west side was spread between ticket offices on the north and south ends, and will call in the middle of Horton Field House. The new Hancock features a can’t-miss ticket office in the middle of the new east-side grandstand, where point-of-sale, will call, and press-level tickets will be available. (Those ticket offices on the west side will still get some limited use because of students and visiting fans who will sit on that side.) The new ticketing hub will also be staffed throughout the week, with easy access and parking right off Main Street.

Press level at Hancock

The view from the press level at the new Hancock Stadium.

Better food

Yes, even the food will be better. That’s because Hancock will have its own catering kitchen—a first for any Redbird athletics facility. The $400,000 in kitchen equipment includes grills for the first time, meaning fans will get fresher food and more options. That ground-level kitchen will also cater the Club area, including rentals/events. “This is a piece we’re really excited about,” said Deterding.

More media

Fresh off a headline-grabbing playoff run last season, the new Hancock features a larger press level (one level above the cub and suite level) to accommodate more sportswriters, radio stations, and other media outlets. The old press box on the west side had only seven media seats and no air conditioning. The new press level on the east side has at least 20 spots, freeing up the old heated press box for coaching staffs. The press level will also be home to much of the game day operations staff, such as the audio-visual crew, statisticians, and scoreboard and clock operators.

Another benefit: The new confines mean that Athletics can use Redbird Arena’s high-tech video control room, instead of a small trailer they used to plug in out on the west side.

Light ’em up

Even though Hancock opens with a night game, expect things to look a little brighter. That’s because a whole new exterior lighting system was installed this summer—a much-needed upgrade, Deterding says. For next season, a new scoreboard will be installed on the north end of the field. Plus, that old marquee sign on Main Street will get an upgrade too with new LED modules.

Increased disabled access

The existing west side doesn’t have many spots for Redbird fans in wheelchairs, and the long-gone east side only had two. The new grandstand quadruples that—and the new locations offer some killer views of the field. There are additional disabled seating locations on the Club Level.

Plus, Hancock now has two sets of elevators—a first for any Athletics facility. The north elevator tower will mostly be for Club and Suite ticketholders, with the south tower for press and catering.

To buy tickets to any Redbird football game, visit GoRedbirds.com.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Ryan Denham can be reached at rmdenha@IllinoisState.edu.