5 Things You Should Know About Illinois' Memorial Stadium
Buried in the walls and bricks of beautiful Memorial Stadium in Champaign, Illinois lies nearly a century of stories, history and tradition. Built in 1923, Memorial Stadium has seen not only 90 years of Fighting Illini football, but also has played host to the Chicago Bears, concerts and the Illinois high school football state championships since 1999.
Here are five things you may not know about historic Memorial Stadium.
A Bulldozer Lies Underneath the Playing Surface
During construction of the stadium, a bulldozer became stuck in the dirt of the stadium. Because there had been so much rain, it was determined that it would be easier to leave the bulldozer buried under the field instead of attempting to extricate it from the mud.
The bulldozer still lies there today.
Legendary Coach Robert Zuppke Is Buried Next Door
If you've been to Memorial Stadium, you more than likely noticed the large "Zuppke Field" inscription on the north end zone wall. Robert Zuppke was coach of the Illini for 29 seasons, including the 1923 and 1927 national champion seasons. Zuppke also coached football pioneer George Halas.
What many may not know is that Coach Zuppke is buried right next door to the stadium. Buried in Roselawn Cemetery on Fourth Street across from Memorial Stadium, Zuppke lies at rest, eternally watching over his Fighting Illini.
Memorial Stadium Hosted the First Farm-Aid Concert
Winter Practices Were Held in an Airtight Dome Constructed on the Field
Each Column Contains the Name of an Illinois Student Lost in World War I
On the east and west sides of the exterior of the stadium stand perhaps one of the most recognizable features of the stadium. The historic colonnades, or rows of columns adorn the stadium's facade. The columns are not just for aesthetics or structure, though. That's because 181 columns line the stadium's facade, each with the name of an Illinois student lost in World War I.