NORMAL — The proximity of a construction fence to the playing surface at Hancock Stadium is preventing the usual Illinois State Red-White Game as the close of spring football practice sessions.
Instead, the Redbirds will hold a shortened version of a practice Saturday at 1 p.m. in a Spring Showcase format and invite spectators to stand on the field for a portion of the proceedings.
“Because of the fence issue and an issue with getting fans up on the grass (practice) field where we could go live, we can’t go live,” ISU coach Brock Spack said.
ISU is building a $25 million east side to Hancock Stadium that is expected to be completed for the upcoming season.
Spack is not lamenting the loss of the spring game as a key piece of player evaluation. The spring game is more of a show for fans with typically vanilla play calling.
“This is really kind of nice in some respects,” said Spack. “We will probably get more out of this from a football standpoint than we would from a spring game. We’ll try to make it fun and up tempo.”
After a few practice drills, spectators will be allowed on the field to stand in a roped off area behind the offensive huddle for a 30-minute team period that will feature full speed contact but not the complete process of tackling.
To conclude activities, fans will be asked to gather around and provide noise as Redbird kickers attempt field goals from various distances.
Other Showcase activities: The Athletics Garage Sale will take place inside Horton Field House Saturday from 8:30 to 10:30 a.m. New and lightly used equipment from all of ISU teams will be available.
The Kids Football Fest will follow at Hancock Stadium and is open to Reggie’s Kids Club members 12 and under with adult
supervision. Registration opens at 9:45 a.m. with the event running from 10:30 a.m. to noon. Stations featuring various football activities will be offered.
From 11 a.m. to noon, the Weisbecker Scholarship Fund will hold an open house in the north end zone to answer questions about the ongoing renovation of Hancock Stadium and various seating plans for the new east side.
The Redbird Barbeque runs from noon to 1 p.m. on the grass berm at the stadium’s north end. A lunch of a hot dog or hamburger, side dish, chips, cookie and drink will be available for $5.