Marching Illini 2014 bowl

The last time Illinois played in the postseason, the Marching Illini packed into chartered buses to head to the Heart of Dallas Bowl in 2014.

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CHAMPAIGN — When the Illini head to the Redbox Bowl later this month, they’ll have the full strength of the Marching Illini behind them.

The entire band will travel to the San Francisco Bay area to perform at the Dec. 30 bowl game and pep rally the day before.

That’s about 370 people in all with band members and staff, said athletics spokesman Kent Brown.

The team will travel to California on Dec. 26, and the band will arrive two days later, he said. Both will return Dec. 31.

The Division of Intercollegiate Athletics will cover the vast majority of the band’s travel costs, Brown said.

He didn’t have an estimate Wednesday, as flights and other details are still being arranged.

“It’s expensive,” Brown said.

The full band traveled to the team’s last bowl game, the Heart of Dallas Bowl in 2014.

But in 2011, only about 100 band members made the trip to the Kraft Fight Hunger Bowl in San Francisco.

At the time, athletics officials said the payout to the UI for that game was about $750,000, and it would have cost about $500,000 to charter a plane for the band and pay for food and lodging, in addition to the travel costs for the football team and staff.

In 1999, Marching Illini members voted to travel by bus to Florida rather than fly a smaller group to the Bowl in Orlando, Fla.

At this year’s bowl game, the band will perform before the game and during halftime, along with the Cal band.


Julie Wurth is a reporter covering the University of Illinois at The News-Gazette. Her email is, and you can follow her on Twitter (@jawurth).