After a summer-long renovation, Redbird Arena’s update is ready to open to the public when Illinois State’s volleyball team opens up the Redbird Classic on Friday. 

Months of construction that has brought more comfortable and closer to the action seats, a moved press section and better accessible for handicap fans. 

Illinois State director of athletics Larry Lyons sees the public having a positive reaction to the changes. 

“I think the public reaction to be very positive. I think the fans are going to enjoy the new amenities with wider aisles, padded seats and better seating that is closer to the floor,” Lyons said. 

With the newly renovated Redbird Arena opening to the public, here are five things to know: 

Seat Features 

Comfort highlights the seating upgrades. Newer, more comfortable seats in the lower bowl replace the ones that had been in use since Redbird Arena opened in January 1989. 

The decision to replace the old seats came when ISU officials realized that parts to the original seats were no longer made. 

The new seats feature padding, cupholders and range from 20 to 22 inches. The original seats were 18 to 22 inches. Not only will the new seats feature padding but they also feature more legroom. To make room for the added legroom several hundred seats were taken out. But Lyons sees the trade-off worth it. 

Up close and personal 

An added effect of extending legroom is that the seats are closer to the court. Before the renovation, the fans were pushed way back from the court. Bringing the fans closer likely will help fan engagement and possibly play more of an effect on opposing teams. 

Other enhancements 

Looking to heighten student experience, the primary student section has been moved to the north end. Moving the primary student section came because of more students entering through the north entrance. The original student section will remain on the south end as a section option. 

Other added enhancements include more courtside seating, loge seating, wider aisles with handrails and a new numerical seating system, scraping the arena’s former letter organization. 

Cost 

The $6.2 million renovations were funded by the auxiliary facilities system revenue bonds 

Opening day 

The newly renovated Redbird Arena will be open to the public starting Friday, with the Redbird Classic volleyball invitational. Nationally ranked Marquette (7) and University of Illinois (14) along with unranked University of Central Florida will be apart of the tournament. UCF and the U of I open play at 4:30 p.m. with action stretching the whole weekend. 

JAKE SERMERSHEIM is a Sports Editor for The Vidette. He can be contacted at vidette_jrserme@ilstu.edu. Follow him on Twitter at @JakeSermersheim


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