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ISU Expects No Seating Limits For Athletic Events This Fall

Ladies cheering at football game
WGLT file photo
Illinois State athletics plans to remove seating capacity limits and restore tailgating for the 2021-2022 season.

Illinois State University athletics has started to sell tickets for the fall football season in anticipation that the state will remove all capacity restrictions.

The state plans to move to the final stage of reopening on Friday, June 11.

Kyle Brennan
Redbird Athletics
Kyle Brennan

Athletics director Kyle Brennan said “excited is too mild of a term” to describe his anticipation for student-athletes, coaches and the rest of the university community to welcome back fans in full force.

“It’s an opportunity for us to bring our fans back and to and put a product on the field that excites them,” Brennan said. “It’s just a good opportunity to reconnect with people we haven’t seen in a while.”

ISU also will bring back tailgating, a tradition before Redbird football games the university banned during the 2020-2021 season because of the coronavirus pandemic.

Brennan said he doesn't know whether masks will still be required by that time, but added ISU athletics will follow public health guidelines.

ISU is only selling season tickets now. It plans to offer single-game tickets starting in July. The Redbirds will have five home football games next season, starting Sept. 4 vs. Butler.

‘Substantial’ financial hit

Brennan said Redbird athletics took a "substantial" financial hit because of greatly reduced attendance and difficulty selling merchandise and commercials and other marketing inventory during the past season.

Brennan said it will likely take several years for ISU athletics to recover from what he calls a "COVID hangover."

“During the actual year of it happening, you are able to save on some expenses, but you have other expenses that come up. But there’s some fallout after the COVID year that we all need to regroup and figure out how we move forward.”

Brennan said he couldn’t specify how big of a financial hit athletics took in the last year but added he doesn't expect any cuts to staff or athletic programs.

“I don’t anticipate any of those cuts coming," Brennan said. "I also didn’t anticipate any coronavirus showing up either. I guess you never say never. You never know what’s around the corner, but no plans on anything like that.”

MVC all-sports trophy

Illinois State earned a second straight Missouri Valley Conference All-Sports Championship for the first time in more than 20 years.

According to a news release from the MVC, the Redbirds finished with the top score among the league’s 10 schools.

Illinois State claimed league championships in men’s cross country, softball, women’s tennis, women’s indoor track & field, women’s outdoor track & field, and volleyball. The Redbirds also placed second in men’s golf and men’s outdoor track & field.

Illinois State also won the All-Sports Trophy in 2018-19, but no trophy was awarded last season because of the pandemic. ISU won the all-sports league championship four consecutive seasons from 1995 to 1999.

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