After two road victories and a bye week, the 2-0 Northern Illinois Huskies make their long-awaited Huskie Stadium debut this Saturday, Sept. 21, when NIU plays host to 3-0 Eastern Illinois in an intra-state battle.
NIU will carry a 21-game winning streak, the longest by an FBS team in its home stadium, into the contest, which kicks off at 6 p.m.
A multitude of changes have been made to enhance the gameday experience at Huskie Stadium for 2013, from parking, concessions and pre-game entertainment, to the new scoreboard, ribbon boards and audio system.
Be sure to check GameDay Central prior to every game this season for ALL of your pregame information, from parking to entertainment, special promotions, travel packages to NIU road games and more. With a large crowd expected for Saturday’s home opener, fans are encouraged to arrive early, or purchase your tickets in advance to avoid waiting in line.
On Saturday, NIU will be giving out white T-shirts and ThunderStix to fans as they enter the stadium (limited number) and high school bands will be in attendance for the annual Band Day halftime extravaganza.
Following are the changes to look for during this new football season.
Several lots around Huskie Stadium were repaved over the summer, while Lot L (the handicapped lot on Stadium drive next to the Northern Television Center building) and Lot K (known as the “Movie Theater” lot) were completely reconfigured and are now connected.
They will open five hours before kickoff. Lot L ($5) is reserved for handicapped patrons with free shuttle service to the West Side of Huskie Stadium, while Lot K will be a tailgating lot used for both donor AND public parking in 2013. Donors will park in the north end of Lot K while fans can now pay $20 on game day to be even closer to the action. The entrance to Lot K is off of Lincoln Highway.
NIU has also opened the East Grass to free parking for all students in 2013 on a first-come, first-served basis. Drivers must show a valid OneCard to the parking attendant on duty to be admitted to the East Grass.
NIU students who purchase a season parking pass from the NIU Athletics External Office in the Convocation Center for $25 are guaranteed a spot regardless of arrival time. East Grass parking will open five hours before kickoff and students without a season pass are encouraged to arrive early. Once the spaces reserved for student parking are filled, students will be directed to other remote parking areas.
The NIU Convocation Center parking lots will open five hours before kickoff. Parking in the NIU Convocation Center lots is $10. Parking in the remote (non-tailgating) lots X, O, W and at NIU Child Care is $5 with those areas open beginning three-and-a-half hours prior to kickoff.
OKTOBERFEST AND PRE-GAME CONCERT SERIES
OktoberFest activities – featuring food and drink available for purchase from local restaurant partner Fatty’s Pub & Grille and Leinenkugel’s – will open five hours prior to kickoff in the tent located adjacent to the Huskie Athletic Support Fund area.
Beginning at 3 p.m. (three hours before kickoff), the local band Back Country Roads will entertain guests. After the game, come back to the tent and enjoy music from Red Woody from 9 p.m. (after the game) until midnight. Entrance to OktoberFest is free with your Huskie football game ticket (or valid OneCard) and $5 for others.
Based on the success of last year’s OktoberFest event, Northern Illinois will open a food and drink area – operated by local favorite Fatty’s – with live pregame concerts for EVERY GAME this season. The tented area will be located on the West Grass adjacent to the HASF tent and is open to all Huskie fans. Entrance is free with your Huskie football game ticket (or valid OneCard) and $5 for others. Food and beverage offerings will vary by game but are scheduled to include domestic and craft beers, brats, burgers and more.
In addition to the live bands, the Huskie Marching Band and Silverettes will parade past the tents to fire up the crowd with the Huskie Fight Song. NIU mascot Victor E. Huskie, as well as the ever-popular husky Diesel, will stop by to say hello to young and old.
Football fans will be treated to a fresh new look at concessions stands in and around Huskie Stadium this fall as food service stands have been renovated and upgraded throughout the venue.
In addition, find local favorites from Lukulos and the Sunshine Scoop Shoppe as those restaurants will be serving some of their popular items at Huskie Stadium this year. A wide variety of menu items will be presented on the “Lukulos Level,” which will be located on the upper level of the west side of the stadium. Lukulos and Sunshine Scoop Shoppe also will serve in a family-friendly area outside the west stands in the southwest corner of the venue.
Northern Illinois’ new scoreboard, ribbon boards and audio system will be in full operation for Saturday’s home opener at Huskie Stadium and fans are sure to notice the difference.
The new Daktronics LED Video Display scoreboard is nearly twice as wide and slightly taller than the previous, 13-year-old scoreboard, and will provide sharper video display with better color and more detail for both graphics and video. The display area can go from full video to game information to graphics on all or part of the board. In addition, the Mid-American Conference has adopted new guidelines and is permitting league schools to show more replays than ever before.
Two bright 100-foot wide ribbon boards on either side of Huskie Stadium will provide fans with interesting graphics, promotional messages and an additional source for in-game information. Featuring 20mm HD resolution and located on the fascia between the 35-yard lines, the ribbons boards give the stadium a new, modernized look.
The audio capability of Huskie Stadium is markedly improved with Daktronics’ redesigned system providing enhanced sound quality and improved clarity for fans on both the east and west sides of the facility.
The improvements are not just on the inside of the stadium as new, large banners depicting some of the great moments in NIU football history have been installed underneath the east stands, significantly upgrading the area’s appearance and bringing Northern Illinois’ long tradition of success to the forefront.
Northern Illinois will once again honor a “Huskie Legend” during every game this year as former players, administrators, university and community supporters are introduced during a break in the action.
In addition, a current or former member of the military with connections to NIU will come onto the field during the coin flip and serve as an honorary captain during each game in 2013.
Tickets remain available for the Eastern Illinois game, and for the entire five-game NIU home schedule. Season tickets are just $100 for the same great reserved seat every contest, and the Huskies also have introduced two different $50 options for 2013.
The HuskieLand Plan includes a ticket for every game, plus $50 in concessions/parking coupons. HuskieLand Plan seats are in sections A and G on the West Side with parking in the Water Tower Lot.
The Win-Win ticket option gives fans the opportunity to purchase ticket(s) in the prime seat locations of the West Side to the Eastern Illinois game for $50 each. As long as NIU extends its home winning streak, fans on the Win-Win plan will receive a ticket to the same seat absolutely free.
Single game tickets can be purchased online, while season tickets, HuskieLand Plan and Win-Win tickets can be ordered by calling (815) 753-PACK (7225) or in person at the NIU Athletics Ticket Office in the Convocation Center between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m. (CT) Monday through Friday. Friday, Sept. 20 is the last day to purchase the Win-Win tickets.
For more information on NIU football and Huskie athletics, visit www.niuhuskies.com.