There are 561 days between now and the Illinois-Nebraska football game in Dublin, Ireland. Illinois athletic department officials are planning ahead. Way ahead.
An advance team from Illinois is in the Irish capital this week, ironing out some of the details for the upcoming trip. The Illini and Cornhuskers are scheduled to meet Aug. 28, 2021, at Aviva Stadium. The building seats 51,700.
The Illinois travel party this week includes deputy athletic director Warren Hood, senior associate AD Marty Kaufmann, assistant AD Bobbi Busboom and director of football operations Tim Knox.
The group left on Wednesday and returns Saturday.
Though the game is a year and a half away, there are logistical questions to answer about lodging, pregame activities and the setup at the stadium.
Nebraska sports information director Keith Mann said the school hasn’t yet sent an advance team to Ireland, but will be “soon.”
Illinois will have another group go to Ireland for this year’s Notre Dame-Navy game in Dublin on Aug. 29.
That advance team will view the stadium operations in the days leading up to the game and on gameday.
The 2021 Illinois-Nebraska game was originally scheduled for Nov. 13 in Champaign. The Illini will now be off that day between games at Minnesota and Iowa. Lovie Smith’s team has six away games scheduled in his sixth season, also going to Virginia (Sept. 11), Purdue (Sept. 25) and Penn State (Oct. 16).
Currently, tickets for the Ireland game are available only through tour packages, with costs from $2,000 to $5,000 per person. A limited number of tickets are expected to go on sale in 2021.
“The Illinois fans that want to go probably need to start making some decisions soon if they want their choice of hotels and some other packages that go along with that,” said Illinois sports information director Kent Brown.
Mann said the interest from Nebraska fans has been very good. Its fan base has always been known for traveling well.
It is the second international game in Nebraska history. In 1992, the Cornhuskers played Kansas State at Japan’s Tokyo Dome.
Illinois has never played a game outside the U.S. The 1989 team was scheduled to open the season at the Glasnost Bowl in Moscow. But the trip was scratched and the teams met in Los Angeles instead.