With the reopening of the majorly-renovated Hancock Stadium, the Redbird Athletics Department is hoping to see a significant increase in game attendance from community members and students.
Larry Lyons, director of athletics, said the stadium can now hold up to 13,391 patrons.
“We’re hopeful that with a better football program and better amenities, we’ll get back up to those attendance numbers on a pretty regular basis,” Lyons said.
In recent years, attendance at football games has been scarce at best because of temporary decreases in stadium capacity that occurred in preparation for the stadium’s east side renovation, Lyons said.
Last year, students were only allocated 1700 seats, a decrease from the 3300 seats they were allowed just two years before. Students were also provided minimal concession and restroom options, Lyons added.
“We didn’t treat [the students] very well for a couple years because we were knocking things down, knowing that we were going to rebuild the east side,” Lyons said.
“We’re certainly hopeful that the students will see the improvements that we’ve been able to make.”
This season, the student section has 3,600 bleacher seats that cover half of the stadium’s west side, spanning south from the 50-yard line.
Even though Red Alert sales are not dramatically different from previous years’ sales, Red Alert is hoping to have 3,000 students at the first game, Drew Claassen, director of fan experience, said.
“We hope students are as excited as we are, as they will certainly benefit from the renovation,” Claassen said.
“One of the biggest aspects we’re excited about is the atmosphere and environment that the students will create by being positioned behind the visitor’s bench. If the students are loud and into the game, we think it can really give us a terrific home field advantage.”
Student board of trustees member Aaron VonQualen agreed. “Both Redbird Athletics and student leaders agreed that students sitting on the west-side bleachers will give the students a better view of the game and help create an electric environment at our football games,” VonQualen said.
“This louder environment will give our team the home field advantage they deserve.”
“I’m really hoping that it just gets packed, it gets loud and there’s screaming,” Dakota Csanda, freshman geology major, said.
Lyons also confirmed that more season tickets have been sold in response to the updated amenities, indicated by the majority of season ticket holders moving to the east side of the stadium.
“We think we’ve grown the atmosphere around the stadium. We need to have folks come in and make it a really good home field,” Lyons said.
Tickets can be purchased at GoRedBirds.com, by phone at (309) 438-3630 or in person at the Ticket Office at Redbird Arena, which is open Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.