The Henry Dale and Betty Smith Football Center will be a 107,650 square foot facility adjoining the south end of the Irwin Indoor Practice Facility. The facility will feature new and 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. Construction of the new football performance center will be completed prior to the 2019 season.
Driving the project is the need to update our outdated football facilities. Today’s program bears little resemblance to that which existed 30 years ago, when the current football operations complex was constructed. The football staff has grown substantially. Improvements to technology and methodology have changed the way players and coaches interact, train, prepare, and recover. Advancements in sports medicine and strength training have outpaced our facility’s ability to house them. As a result, we are missing critical opportunities for our football student-athletes to prepare and develop, constrained by the limited functionality of our current facilities.
Of equal importance is the impact a quality facility has on recruiting. To win football games and pursue championships, we need top student-athletes from around the country to choose the University of Illinois to further their educations and their football careers. The competition for talent is fierce and pits us against tradition-rich football programs from coast to coast. To win in this race, we must offer exceptional leadership and resources that allow our student-athletes to realize every ounce of their potential. World-class facilities are an important part of the equation as well. Our facilities must demonstrate 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
Student-athlete welfare and program competitiveness are the driving factors in constructing the Illinois Henry Dale and Betty Smith Football Center.
By enhancing our strength and conditioning, equipment, sports medicine, training and meeting areas, our student-athletes will have access to one of the top facilities in the nation. The daily use of enhanced facilities by our student-athletes will lead to peak performance on the field of play. It will also allow us to compete aggressively for the most talented prospective student-athletes in the country.
This state-of-the-art facility – to be located next to the Irwin Indoor Practice Facility, adjacent to Memorial Stadium – is the latest demonstration of our institutional commitment to building, supporting, and sustaining a winning football program.
Construction on the Henry Dale and Betty Smith Football Center will begin in early 2018, with the project scheduled for completion prior to the start of the 2019 season.
Estimated cost for the 107,650-square-foot, Illinois Henry Dale and Betty Smith Football Center is $79.2 million.
Private gifts and Division of Intercollegiate Athletics funds will be used to provide funding for this ambitious project. There are no plans to use state money or tuition assessments to finance this renovation. Student fees will not be a part of this renovation.
No; games will be played at Memorial Stadium as scheduled.
Naming and gift opportunities will be available. Please contact the Office of Athletics Development at (217) 333-6595 if you have interest in helping to fund this project.
Constructing a new facility will allow us to build exactly what we need without being limited by an existing footprint. Through extensive tours of our peer institutions, we found the very best performance centers to be stand-alone facilities that were constructed from the ground up.
By building at the northeast side of the stadium, we will not face space constraints that exist between the south end of Memorial Stadium and Kirby Ave.
With the new building’s direct access right next to the Irwin Indoor Practice Facility and the east grass practice fields, and a short walk to the team’s entrance to the stadium, this location will provide for the most centrally located, efficient space for use by our coaches and student-athletes.
Following completion of the Henry Dale and Betty Smith Football Center, we will then pursue Memorial Stadium renovations to include new seating in the horseshoe and improvements in fan amenities on the south and east sides.