The University of Illinois has truly ramped up its game when it comes to tailgating and pre-game entertainment over the past several years. In 2015, Illinois introduced Grange Grove, a new high-energy tailgating area adjacent to Memorial Stadium. Grange Grove provides a variety of elements for fans to make the most of their gameday experience, including a public tailgating area, live music, a family fun zone, and a beer garden. It’s made for quite a fun experience when tailgating at Illinois!
In this guide, we will outline the key information you’ll need to have a successful and fun game day experience at Memorial Stadium.
First things first, let’s talk about game tickets. Getting your hands on tickets is a breeze through the Fighting Illini Athletic site. Illinois offers various options, including single-game tickets, Family 4 Packs, and Mini Plans, making it affordable for everyone to attend a game.
Game tickets are readily available through the Fighting Illini Athletic site.
For all the latest parking options for gameday at Illinois – check out Fighting Illini Football Parking Information!
Game Day Timeline
To make the most of your game day experience, it’s essential to know the timeline of events. From the opening of parking lots and Grange Grove to the Illini Walk and the start of live entertainment, we’ve got you covered with the complete game day timeline. Prepare to immerse yourself in the Illini spirit!
7:00 am – Parking lots open/Grange Grove opens
4 hours before kickoff – Food Trucks open
3 hours before kickoff – Kids Zone opens (Inflatables, Face Painting, Balloon Art and Science Experiments)
2.5 hours before kickoff – Marching Illini Drumline in Grange Grove/Illini Walk
2 hours before kickoff – Suites, 77 Club, Colonnades Club open/Marching Illini performance begins
2 hours before kickoff – Live entertainment begins
1.5 hours before kickoff – Memorial Stadium gates open/Varsity I Autograph Tent opens
½ hour before kickoff – Starting Lineups Announced
Tailgating at Illinois
Individual tailgating is allowed in ALL parking lots. Personal tailgating tents must be 10’x10’ or smaller, and you are not allowed to tailgate in any walkways or on sidewalks. Also, before you head to the stadium on game day, be sure to read over our Tailgating Check-List blog to make sure you didn’t forget anything!!
**NEW: Fans are now REQUIRED to reserve space ahead of time in Grange Grove
In response to the tremendous demand and popularity of tailgating in Grange Grove at Memorial Stadium, the University of Illinois Athletics is excited to announce the introduction of a new service that will enhance the gameday experience for all fans. Starting this season, fans will be required to reserve tailgate spaces in advance, ensuring a safe and organized environment for all attendees. The best part is, these space reservations will be provided free of charge, providing our fans with the added convenience of knowing in advance if they have secured the necessary space for their tailgate.
Fans who wish to tailgate on their own can visit the Illinois reservations page on Tailgater Concierge’s website and select the “tailgate space only” option. Additionally, fans have the option to upgrade their reserved space with basic tailgate equipment, such as tents, tables, and chairs, which will be provided upon arrival on game day. Fans will receive a notification regarding the status of their reservation 10 days prior to the game. Please note that space-only requests will be fulfilled on a first-come, first-served basis, and availability is not guaranteed.
To guarantee you have a spot on gameday, you can purchase one of Tailgater Concierge’s turnkey tailgate packages.
More information can be found HERE.
Group Tickets & Large Tents
For group ticket purchasers of 50 or more tickets, the Fighting Illini group sales department is happy to coordinate an exceptional game day experience. With your group ticket purchase and tent rental, groups can also reserve space in Lot 31 or Grange Grove. Space in Lot 31 or Grange Grove is subject to availability. For pricing and information about group hospitality tailgates, please call the Fighting Illini group sales department at 217-300-8491.
Public tailgating is also available in Grange Grove. Fans can access the space between 5 pm to 7 pm the night before the game to reserve their space and set-up their tailgate items. Space is available on a first-come, first-served basis. Grange Grove then re-opens at 7 am on game day, though note that the sections of First St. and Kirby Ave. that run next to Grange Grove are closed to traffic on game day. This makes it difficult to drop off any additional tailgating gear which means you’ll need to bring items with you from your parking location so be sure to consider bringing along a wagon to help you transport your gear. Tailgating in Grange Grove is a great time, however, do be aware that it is quite a bit more work when compared to tailgating at your vehicle or using one of the services available.
For more information on tailgating at the University of Illinois, you can check out this info page on Grange Grove.
Tailgater Concierge’s Tailgate Service at Illinois
If you don’t have tailgating equipment or just don’t want to deal with the hassle of setting up your own tailgate, consider using Tailgater Concierge’s tailgating service. We handle all the set-up, take-down, and clean-up of your tailgate equipment and help coordinate your catering and beverage needs! You can find more information on our services here.
If you have any questions about our available services, feel free to shoot us an email at [email protected] or give us a call at 888-301-2190.
The Illini Walk
One of the most popular traditions at Illinois is the Fighting Illini Walk. The team walks through Grange Grove all their way to the stadium two and a half hours before kick-off. They are followed by the Illini Marching Band and Cheerleaders. Be sure to gather around and cheer them on!
Food & Drink Options
Fans have access to plenty of food and beverage options near Memorial Stadium. The University brings in a wide variety of food trucks that set up along First Street. This year’s food truck lineup includes Kona Ice, Maize, Dave’s Dogs, and Dragon Fire Pizza.
Fighting Illini Tailgate Gear
Quick thing – if you need some new tailgate gear, purchasing items in the Spring is typically way more affordable than waiting until late summer/fall.
When it comes to team-branded tents, we always recommend the Logo Brands NCAA line. Right now this is 25% off Amazon – a great deal! You can find it here. If you’re open to a more generic tent, see below for our link to the Best Tailgate Tents of 2022. These don’t all have team logos on them, but they’re great solid tents that will last you season after season.
If you’re in need of some chairs – these Rawlings ones get great reviews and are only $26 each.
If you’re planning to walk around Grange Grove or join a friend’s tailgate, this is a great, large cooler to carry your food & beverages in. It holds up to 24 cans! You can find it on Amazon here.
If you need some new attire, we always suggest checking out Fanatics. Here’s a link to all their Fighting Illini Items. They have attire for everyone in the family. Be sure to keep an eye on when they have sales, they’re great! They also always have deals on shipping, promotions, etc.
Do’s and Don’ts
When organizing your trip to Memorial Stadium – be sure to read up on the stadium policies. Here’s a comprehensive diagram of things you can and cannot bring with you, and we linked the football game day guide below!
For more information on Illinois game day policies, check out their Football Game Day Guide.
In summary, the University of Illinois has transformed tailgating and game day experiences with the introduction of Grange Grove and a host of exciting activities. We’ve covered everything you need to know, from obtaining game tickets and parking details to the game day timeline and tailgating options. Make sure to explore the diverse food and beverage options and gear up with team-branded essentials. Get ready to immerse yourself in the exhilarating atmosphere and traditions of Illinois football.
If you have any other suggestions for tailgating at the University of Illinois, be sure to leave them in the comments below for other fans to see! Or if you have any questions, throw them down there too so our community can help.
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