Editorial: Memorial Stadium student section moves
For the first time in many years, Memorial Stadium will be getting a makeover in order to catch up to the rest of the Big Ten. While there is no disagreement about the necessity of the renovation, there is much to be said about the proposed relocation of the student section.
According to the University's Division of Intercollegiate Athletics, students will be moved from their current seats on the sidelines to the north end zone. This section will have concessions and other amenities that will cater to the demands and needs of the student population.
However, this move is not necessarily in the best interests of the student supporters, since their vantage point will now be noticeably worse. Although there are no seats in the stadium that make it impossible to watch the game, the seats reserved for the students right now allow them a good view of action on both ends of the field. Once the student section moves to the north side of the stadium, it will be difficult to know what's happening when the Illini are playing near the south end zone without watching the TV footage on the scoreboard.
Also, it is unclear why the student section must be completely inaccessible from all other parts of the stadium. This may well prove to be an unnecessary inconvenience to students who want to meet with family and friends at the game.
Athletic department officials say the move will help direct the students' energy throughout the whole field, which is a reasonable point. The entire stadium will get to see and hear the I-L-L I-N-I better. But it is difficult to ignore that, with the students moved to their new designated area, the University will be able to sell the more valuable sideline seats at a much higher price to the general public.
There is no dispute that the planned improvements to the stadium are big steps in the right direction; improved facilities attract better players and eventually lead to a better team. In addition, the removal of the scaffolding in the horseshoe and the complete overhaul of the luxury box seats and press box will make the stadium look better and will likely bring more exposure and money to the campus.
At the same time, the University has asked a lot from students with repeated increases in tuition and fees. The right thing for the athletics department to do, if its heart is set on moving the student section, would be to offer student tickets at lower prices. Although we are receiving significantly worse seats, perhaps such a pricing measure will at least make the change more palatable.