25, No. 2, July 21, 2005
discuss new hotel/restaurant and Memorial Stadium renovations
passes to retain the names “Illini” and “Fighting
Sabryna Cornish, UIC News Bureau, and
Sharita Forrest, Assistant Editor, Inside Illinois
At their meeting in Chicago on July 14, the UI Board of Trustees approved
the construction of a hotel and restaurant near the Research Park on
the Urbana campus.
The 68,000-square-foot facility would be constructed, furnished and
operated consistent with the AAA 4-diamond rating, more upscale than
anything that exists now near the university. The $15 million complex
would be built south of Assembly Hall on the southeast corner of First
Street and St. Mary’s Road.
“We do not have a hotel of this quality,” Chancellor Richard
Herman said. “This could make the Urbana-Champaign area a destination.
The university will play a key part in that.”
The five-story hotel would have luxury suites on the top floors. Each
guest room would contain upscale furnishings. The 120-room hotel would
be designed so that it could be expanded by another 80 rooms.
The complex would include an 8,300-square-foot full-service restaurant
with seating for 245 patrons. The restaurant would include a private
dining room with an outdoor deck.
The trustees said they would consider plans for constructing a conference
center close to the hotel, once staff members have established the viability
of the conference center project.
Hotel construction could begin as early as fall with a completion date
of November 2006. The land will be leased to a local developer, who
will build the complex and hire a company to manage the property for
Trustees also heard plans for the possible renovation of Memorial Stadium.
The stadium, which opened in 1924, is showing signs of wear, Herman
Athletic Director Ron Guenther said he began considering renovating
the stadium after the 2001 season.
Guenther, who cited the renovation of Soldier Field in Chicago as an
example of what he does not want to see happen, said: “We wanted
to make sure this project protected the architecture of the stadium.
In my opinion, Memorial Stadium is not only classic, but one of the
few standing memorial stadiums.”
He pointed out that Memorial Stadium is the last of the Big Ten conference
venues to undergo major renovations.
“The catalyst for all the things we do is getting people down
here,” Guenther said. “This is the opportunity to bring
people together in a dynamic setting.”
The plan calls for adding a 19,000-square-foot club space with private
restrooms and concession facilities and 49 climate-controlled suites
that would be corporate or privately sponsored, giving the stadium a
new look without compromising its historic significance. Other renovations
would include expanding the concession areas and the bathrooms and adding
a mezzanine level in the Great Hall on the stadium’s east side.
While seating would be added on the west sideline, the south horseshoe
and north end zone, the stadium’s total seating would decrease
by 4,056 seats, from the current 69,199 seats to 65,143 seats.
The renovations would be financed through a variety of fundraising vehicles,
including a surcharge on tickets (except student tickets), advertising
and monies raised from private and club seats.
The university has the potential to raise $127 million for the estimated
$145 million project, said Mike Handelman of HNTB, the firm that is
completing a feasibility study of the project.
Trustee Robert Sperling said the renovation would attract donors to
the university who will want to sponsor club seats.
“This will enable the university to take athletics to the next
level with a facility we can be proud of,” Sperling said.
Eppley called the fundraising plans “a very creative way of financing
- The trustees
passed a resolution seeking consensus on the Chief Illiniwek controversy.
The resolution states that the university will retain the names “Illini”
and “Fighting Illini” but does not address whether the
chief symbol will be retained.
“I’m highly supportive of these guidelines in our work
for a consensus resolution,” said President B. Joseph White.
- The establishment
of a program in American Indian Studies in the College of Liberal
Arts and Sciences at the Urbana campus also was approved. The program
will bring together courses and scholars on campus related to the
study of American Indians and indigenous people of the Americas. The
campus is hoping eventually to offer a major and a minor in the field.
Resources for growth of the program will be funded through internal
- The design and
site for the McFarland Memorial Bell Tower on the Urbana campus was
approved. The tower will honor the memory of Sarah “Sally”
McFarland, the wife of H. Richard McFarland, a 1952 alumnus of the
College of Agriculture.
The 185-foot bell tower will house 49 bells and be located at a future
quadrangle envisioned on the campus master plan, on the centerline
of Foellinger Auditorium, the Stock Pavilion and the ACES Library,
Information and Alumni Center.
The bells will be cast in Europe, and can be played by a remote touch-sensitive
piano-style keyboard or by automated computer chip.
Fred Guyton of Peckham, Guyton, Albers & Viets Inc. said the design
of the tower is unique.
“There isn’t another one like this,” Guyton said.
“It blends nicely with the architecture of the rest of the campus.”
extends Coach Weber’s contract
By Sabryna Cornish, UIC News Bureau
Men’s basketball coach Bruce Weber is planning on sticking around
for a while.
At its July 14 meeting in Chicago, the UI Board of Trustees approved
extending Weber’s contract at Urbana by two years and increasing
his salary. The extended contract will run through the 2010-2011 season.
Weber, who led the Fighting Illini to two consecutive Big Ten championship
titles and took last year’s team to the NCAA championship game,
will earn the same base salary ($200,000), but will receive $150,000
more for media appearances and promotional events, bringing his total
compensation package to $700,000 annually.
The trustees also approved a one-time signing bonus of $100,000 and
a deferred compensation package that will give Weber $1.1 million if
he stays with the university as head coach until April 30, 2011.
“It has been a memorable first two years, and our staff will continue
working hard to ensure the future success
of the basketball program here at the University of Illinois,”
Chancellor Richard Herman said the package illustrates Weber’s
wish to stay at the UI. “This represents a long-term commitment
by the coach,” Herman said.
Chair Lawrence Eppley said that although the compensation package seems
high, it is not in comparison to those of other Big Ten coaches. With
the new compensation, Weber is the fourth highest paid coach in the
Eppley also pointed out that the funds used to pay the coach are not
state monies, but rather funds generated from athletics.
Athletics director Ron Guenther said Weber’s performance has been