University of Illinois has truly ramped up their 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 game day experience, including a public tailgating area, live music, family fun zone, and a beer garden.
The Fighting Illini team will be good soon enough, so it’s worth it to start investing your time now in your pre-game experience at Memorial Stadium. Even though the team hasn’t won eight games in a season for the past 10? Years, there’s still an incredibly vibrant tailgate scene around campus on game days. We think this is the start of the momentum needed for the football team’s turnaround. Give it a few years, and the Fighting Illini will be back. You heard it here first 😊
In this guide we will outline the key information you’ll need to have a successful and fun game day at Memorial Stadium.
Game tickets are readily available through the Fighting Illini Athletic site. In addition to single game tickets, Illinois offers several package options, such as Family 4 Packs and Mini Plans to make going to a game fairly affordable.
GAME DAY TIMELINE
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
Most of the parking lots around Memorial Stadium are pass only lots. There are some lots available for game day purchase. These lots are Lot 44, 46, 47, 49 and the lots in the Research Park. Parking fees for these lots are $20 per automobile. Recreations vehicles/motor homes may park in Lot 33 for $40. Parking lots open at 7:00 am and will remain open until 10:00 pm except for night games where lots will stay open until one hour after the game ends. You can check out the parking map here – Illinois Parking Map.
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!!
Large groups can reserve tent space in Lot 31 or Grange Grove. To be eligible for tent space, groups must purchase 50 or more game tickets. You also will be required to purchase tents, food and beverages all through Illinois approved vendors. If you’re interested in a tailgate service, but want a bit more flexibility, check out our Illinois page – we support groups of all sizes.
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.
TAILGATER CONCIERGE TAILGATING SERVICES
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! For 2019, our Tailgater Village will be set-up in the northwest corner of Lot 42, just a block away from the stadium. This is a pass lot, though you should be able to find passes on re-sale sites like Stub Hub or Vivid Seats if you’d like to park near right near your tailgate space!
If you have any questions about our services available, feel free to shoot us an email at email@example.com or give us a call at 888-301-2190.
2019 LIVE ENTERTAINMENT
The Homecoming crowd on Oct. 13 will jam to Too White Crew, a playful tribute band performing your favorite hip hop sounds of the 80s and 90s. On Dad’s Day, the popular totally 80s band, The Brat Pack comes to Grange Grove for pregame entertainment on Nov. 3. The final act of the year features Marching Illini drumline alum, Anthony Hish, and his rock band, ZØRILA, for the season finale vs. Iowa on Nov. 17. So fun!
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 AND 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, Cracked, and Dragon Fire Pizza. Inside Grange Grove, fans can enjoy the beer tent, which opens three hours before kickoff.
DO’S AND DONT’S
For more information on Illinois game day policies, check out their Football Game Day Guide.
If you have any questions regarding game day and tailgating at The University of Illinois, feel free to reach out to our team and we would be happy to assist you!