CHAMPAIGN — If you can’t catch Dick Butkus in person this afternoon, you’ll have a chance to get up close with the Illini football legend’s likeness Saturday.
The newest sculpture at Memorial Stadium, honoring the Hall of Fame linebacker, will be unveiled during a 2 p.m. public ceremony today, the eve of Butkus’ alma mater’s ABC-televised showdown with No. 16 Michigan.
Fans coming to town for the 11 a.m. kickoff will be able to pose for selfies with, take photos of, even touch the 12-foot, 1,000-pound bronze replica if they’d like.
The sculpture is already at its new home — the Henry Dale and Betty Smith Football Center, on the east side of the stadium — but was covered under a big blue tarp on Thursday.
George Lundeen, a University of Illinois alum who also created the Red Grange statue on the west side of the stadium, shared photos of the finished product with News-Gazette Media last week. In true Butkus fashion, Lundeen’s statue portrays No. 50 with his familiar menacing scowl.
Butkus, 76, is expected to give remarks at today’s ceremony. He’ll be joined by UI officials and Matt and Sara Joyce, UI graduates who provided a gift that helped pay for the sculpture.
Free parking will be available for today’s ceremony at State Farm Center. Fourth Street will be closed from Kirby to Pennsylvania avenues for the event.