CHAMPAIGN — Spring practice opens up Tuesday, but Jason Heggemeyer has to look ahead. He doesn’t have much choice.
The Illinois associate athletic director for ticketing has two major items. First, season-ticket renewals, which have gone out in the past week and are due back by April 9. Second, a Sept. 14 “home” game against Washington at Chicago’s Soldier Field. Tickets for Illinois’ first appearance in the building in 19 years will go first to the school’s donors and season-ticket holders.
With the help of Soldier Field officials, prices have been set for the game. The best seats, in the lower level and club level, will go for $80. But you will be able to get into the game for as little as $30.
Donors and season-ticket holders will have exclusive rights to the tickets until May 1. After that, sales will open to the general public. Season-ticket holders won’t be limited in the number of seats they want at Soldier Field.
“As many as you want,” Heggemeyer said. “They are going to have the best seats in the stadium.”
At 61,500 capacity, Soldier Field has about 1,000 more seats than Memorial Stadium.
Illinois has a seven-game home schedule at Memorial Stadium, starting with the Aug. 31 game against Southern Illinois. Washington was originally going to play in Champaign before the game was moved to Chicago.
The Washington game isn’t a part of the Illinois season ticket.
“The majority of our season-ticket holders are within an hour and a half radius of Champaign,” Heggemeyer said. “The thought process was there is a lot of interest in the game but there are some people who don’t want to be forced to pay for it. We’re going to give them priority in terms of their seating.”
Student season-ticket holders will receive a ticket to the Chicago game. Washington has requested 4,000 tickets for the game and expects a large following.
Illinois athletic director Mike Thomas has made it known he wants a greater presence in Chicago, mentioning the possibility of a football game in the city in years when Northwestern isn’t on the away schedule. But no other Soldier Field games have been scheduled yet.
Heggemeyer said season-ticket renewals have been consistently about 85 percent, with the number going higher some years. In 2012, Illinois had a season-ticket base of 35,000.
Illinois continues to expand its family pricing areas, with the potential to sell 15,000 season tickets at a $99 rate.
“If we sell all those, we will consider some more,” Heggemeyer said.
Illinois is keeping its season tickets at the same price as in 2012. That means $315 for prime seats and $230 for the main grandstands.
Single-game tickets go on sale in mid-July. Sideline seats will cost $39 for nonconference games and $49 for conference games. Tickets for the game against Ohio State are $60.
Deals set. The contracts for new offensive coordinator Bill Cubit, offensive line coach Jim Bridge, linebackers coach Al Seamonson and defensive line coach Greg Colby are expected to be approved this week by the school’s board of trustees.
Cubit, the former head coach at Western Michigan, was given a two-year contract that will pay him $400,000 annually.
Bridge, who came to Illinois from North Carolina State, received a two-year deal that will pay him $200,000 annually.
Seamonson, a former Central Florida assistant, has a two-year contract for $180,000 annually.
Colby, a former Illini assistant who was most recently the head coach at Division II Millersville (Pa.), received a two-year contract for $180,000 annually.