The Henry Dale and Betty Smith Football Center opened in August 2019. The world-class 107,650 square foot, $79.2 million facility is the home for the Fighting Illini football program, including expanded strength and conditioning and sports medicine space, coaches' offices, position meeting rooms, player development areas, locker rooms, and other areas for recruiting and prospect hosting.
The H.D. Smith Foundation, led by Dale and Chris Smith, donated $20 million to the University of Illinois Foundation, with $15 million dedicated to the performance center. In recognition of the gift, the building will forever be named the Henry Dale and Betty Smith Football Center.
Driving the project's need was to update Illinois' outdated football facilities. Today's program bears little resemblance to that which existed 30 years ago, when the previous football operations complex was constructed. The new, world-class Smith Football Center demonstrates an institutional commitment to building, supporting, and sustaining a winning football program.
The H.D. Smith Foundation, led by Dale and Chris Smith, has announced a donation of $20 million to the University of Illinois Foundation, with $15 million dedicated to the Fighting Illini Football Performance Center. In recognition of the gift, the building will forever be named the Henry Dale and Betty Smith Football Center.Read More
University of Illinois alumni Red Grange and Dick Butkus are considered as two of the greatest players in college and pro football history. Grange had been memorialized with a grand statue on the west side of Memorial Stadium, now, Butkus, the man many consider the greatest linebacker in football history, is forever recognized with his own statue overlooking the entrance to the Smith Center.
The statue was produced by acclaimed artist, and UI alum, George Lundeen, at his studio in Colorado. Lundeen also created the Red Grange statue that stands guard on the west side of Memorial Stadium, as well as the awards presented to each inductee into the University of Illinois Athletics Hall of Fame.
Matt and Sara Joyce, both UI graduates, generously donated to DIA to create the Butkus statue.