Ninety percent of the seats are on the renovated east side of Illinois State University's Hancock Stadium. (Photo by Bryan Bloodworth/WJBC)
By Bryan Bloodworth
NORMAL – Things are beginning to really take shape at Illinois State University’s Hancock Stadium as the $25 million renovation project continues toward its September completion date.
“We’re moving along very, very well and I’m fully confident we’ll be done in plenty of time for Sept. 21,” said Larry Lyons, the executive associate director for athletics, in reference to the football home opener against Abilene Christian.
“It will be a great opening night for football and our fans will be thrilled with what they are going to see and experience.”
Lyons said the bleacher section is 90 percent complete on the east side.
“The seats are in and the chair-backs are on the bleachers,” Lyons continued. “We don’t have the chairs for the club seats in yet. Those need to be installed along with the handicap seats at the top.”
Workers are currently laying the foundation for the first four rows – the seats closet to the field – where the bulk of the handicap seats will reside.
“We made sure we made up for the lack of disability seats on the west side by adding more than we’ll probably need on the east side,” said Lyons, who added that officials are presently holding off on announcing how many seats will be on the east side.
“We’re not saying how many seats there will be until we get them in and numbered,” Lyons continued.
One thing the east-side seats will have over the west-side seats is width.
The average standard bench seat has always been considered 18 inches. ISU officials believe times have changed and are making the bleacher seats on the east side an average of 20 inches in width.
Workers are beginning to pour floors for the suite and club levels and the center arch is being framed.
“The center arch is the signature piece,” said Lyons. “When President (Al) Bowman gave us the authority to move forward and it was official we were going to do something on the east side we said we need to make this the signature building.
“This needs to make a statement. This is going to be a gateway to the campus, so we spent some time and energy on the outside to make sure it looked good and I think we’ve accomplished that.”
The north and south towers house stairwells and the middle towers are elevator towers with a stairwell.
There also will be an aisle across the top of the structure for people to exit down the back stairs, although ISU officials believe most people will enter and exit through the grandstands.
Matt Lyons, the assistant athletic director for development said all 500 club seats have been sold along with the seven suites.
“We now have a waiting list for club seats,” said Matt Lyons.
Bryan Bloodworth can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org