Since its inception in 1961, Hancock Stadium has served as the Illinois State football team’s home landscape.It's not a lament about how the misplaced priorities at high schools are straining State's mathematics and writing programs with remedial students. It's not even about the band director having problems recruiting performers.
The venue’s chain linked fences and metal bleachers have also been identified as one of the first welcome gateways to campus with the stadium serving as a visual point at the busiest intersection on campus.
“I hope we can see renovations soon. I’ve seen high school stadiums bigger than Hancock,” Pat Potter, a member of Red Alert and the Big Red Marching Machine band, said—painting a transparent picture for the shape of the university’s 15,000-seat stadium.
Looks like a smaller version of Huskie Stadium as it appeared when I first hired out here. But Northern Illinois has visions of being the next Boise State that have nothing to do with invidious comparisons of economics departments, and Illinois State hopes to be the next Northern Illinois. But first they hope to beat Southern Illinois into Division I.
Crowds of less than 6,000 filed into Hancock this past season. Attendance could be boosted with renovations. Southern Illinois recently built a state-of-the-art Saluki Stadium, which replaced the worn down McAndrew Stadium. The team’s first game in 2010 was a sellout and the program saw substantial increase in attendance.Southern's football team continues to play in I-AA. Their use of student fees to subsidize otherwise uninteresting sports teams, particularly basketball, continues to be unproductive.
Renovating Hancock Stadium is a necessary step in the long-term goal of turning the Redbirds from a Division I-AA FCS football program and into a Division I-A FBS (Bowl Series) program.
“I think Illinois State has a lot of potential in football that has been untapped. When it comes time to move up to [the Bowl series level], it will happen, I truly believe that with my heart. First, though, we have to build a football program to a stature where it’s consistently successful on a yearly basis. Coach Spack has exceeded that in his two years and I believe he’ll continue to grow the program to where it’s nationally recognized and as that happens, with stadium enhancements, then we could be in that position,” [Illinois State president Al] Bowman said.