The opening of the new Hancock Stadium this Saturday begins an exciting new era for Redbird football—and it means some important changes for Illinois State fans on game day.

To help fans find what they’re looking for on game day and the rest of the season, STATEside teamed up with Redbird Athletics for our Redbird Fans Guide to Opening Night at Hancock:

Parking and tailgating

In a change from previous seasons, most of the parking lots closest to the stadium (G73, G74, G64, G83, F62, F64 and F83) can only be used by Weisbecker Scholarship Fund donors with football season tickets holding valid parking passes, starting at 7 a.m. on game days.

But there’s plenty of public parking elsewhere. Lots G53, G81, G82, F43, F71, U91, and S103 will serve as public paid parking and tailgating lots, though fans are encouraged to arrive early on game days for the best chances to receive a tailgating space. RV parking is also available for $25 per vehicle at the north end of the G82 lot (northwest of Horton Field House), with overflow parking in the S103 lot on north campus.

new Hancock Stadium parking and tailgating map

The new Hancock Stadium parking and tailgating map.

Check out the full parking and tailgating map. For a full listing of all Illinois State tailgating policies and procedures, and other fan info, please click on the Fan Zone tab on

Student seating

While the giant new east-side grandstand will get most of the attention opening night, Illinois State students will be excited to find their own dedicated seating section on Hancock’s west side.

After years of being shuffled around during construction, students will now have Sections 121-123 as their official seating section, with about 3,600 general admission and Red Alert member seats available. (Overflow seating is in the south end zone near the Big Red Marching Machine.) The change, which was made after consulting student leaders, also gives the Redbirds a major home-field advantage, because all those screaming student fans will be located right behind the visitors’ bench.

“With the help of our students, Hancock Stadium will be one of the toughest places to play in the Missouri Valley Football Conference,” said Redbird football coach Brock Spack.

Student giveaways

More good news for students: All students at Saturday’s game are eligible to win one of the three legit prizes: an iPad mini, Xbox 360 and 50-inch flat screen TV. Winners will be drawn during the game, but in order to win, the student must be present in Hancock at the time of the drawing.

The goal is to have 3,000 students in the stands on opening night vs. Abilene Christian.


First things first: Public and student tickets are still available for the home opener. Buy your tickets today online at, by phone at (309) 438-8000 or in-person at the Illinois State Athletics Ticket Office at Redbird Arena, open from Monday through Friday, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.

You can also still pick up season tickets for $95, with discounts for faculty/staff and kids. Another good option if you want a little discount is a “You Pick It” Mini Plan package, where you pick two games for $40. Single-game tickets are also on sale for the rest of the season.

For students, a $50 membership in Red Alert, Illinois State’s official spirit group, is your best bet. In addition to getting access to all home ISU football and men’s basketball games, all members receive the exclusive 2013 Red Alert vintage T-shirt with membership purchase.

Gameday Central

The revamped Gameday Central page is a great way to get ready for your Hancock visit, or follow the action from home. This fan hub has links to everything you need to know—parking, tailgating, weather, team news, game day promotions, season schedules, and more.

And for those fans who can’t make it out and will be listening on WJBC or watching on, the two-screen experience will give you live stats, game notes, full rosters, video, and social media feeds.

Ryan Denham can be reached at