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  • Richard Smith

Eichelberger Field – Illinois Fighting Illini

Photos by Richard Smith, Stadium Journey

Stadium Info FANFARE Score: 3.86

Eichelberger Field

1202 W. Florida Avenue

Urbana, IL 61801

Illinois Fighting Illini website

Eichelberger Field website

Year Opened: 2001

Capacity: 1,500


Shorty Gets A Stadium

Eichelberger Field is named after Lila Jeanne “Shorty” and the late Paul Eichelberger who provided funding and support for the stadium and the softball team to open and start in 2001. “Shorty” is a long time supporter of the university and the athletic program.

The stadium and program is just over twenty years old, but has been a great success. The annual “World’s Largest Softball Tailgate” has been a great opportunity for fans to experience this wonderful venue.

Food & Beverage 3

Eichelberger Field has very typical stadium food. Among the stadium’s offerings were hot dogs, brats, nachos, popcorn, and pretzels.

There also may be temporary vendors at various games that sell other specialty items.

Atmosphere 4

Eichelberger Field is a great place to watch softball. The small stands are perfect for the venue and give fans a great view of the action.

For apparel and other merchandise sales, a trailer is often operated by a local sports apparel store during games.

There is a decent scoreboard at Illinois Field.

Neighborhood 5

The neighborhood closest to Eichelberger Field is mostly made up of research facilities, dorms, and academic buildings, not to mention high-quality athletic facilities. Culver’s at 2302 S Neil Street and Espresso Royale (1411 S Neil Street) are a couple of close quick service establishments nearby.

A very short walk away is the area along Green and Wright Streets called “Campustown.” There are many bars, shops, and restaurants in this area, and they tend to cater to young college students.

Older fans will want to center their post-game activities around downtown Champaign. Once a pretty boring downtown area, one will now find many bars and restaurants. The Esquire Lounge is a local icon and should be a stop for every one. Try a pork chop sandwich and you will fit in nicely.

Other great downtown spots are Blind Pig Brewery, Jupiter’s, and Farren’s Pub & Eatery. There is also a much larger version of Jupiter’s on the outskirts of Champaign (2511 Village Green Place at The Crossing Center) that is also a good choice. If visiting that second Jupiter’s location also try Billy Barooz right next door (2521 Village Green Place at The Crossing Center).

Urbana is a bit slower pace kind of town. But there are three places that jump out as must-visits. 25 O’Clock Brewing Company is a great little brewpub, Crane Alley is a nice bar with some great beers and Masijta Grill is a great Korean barbecue. I would also throw in the eclectic music at the former country nightspot, The Rose Bowl.

Fans 3

Illinois softball fans are great and they create a great atmosphere at Eichelberger Field. There are the typical friends and family seen at these type of sporting events but there appears to be a decent amount of local fans.

Access 5

Champaign and Urbana are both easy cities to navigate. Eichelberger Field is not located close to a major highway but most roads leading to the area will be four-lane ones. There are many parking lots available, but it would be a good idea to look at the official university parking site so that you head the right way. There are parking lots located in the grass lots on the west side of Eichelberger Field.

Champaign-Urbana is at the crossroads of I-57 and I-74, as well as being the eastern terminus for I-72 so getting to the area from Chicago, Indianapolis and points west will be pretty easy.

Return on Investment 4

Admission is currently free. When you combine that with reasonable concessions and free parking it is about perfect for the experience you will find inside.

Extras 3

There are free programs as well as links to an online program. There are also usually free posters, schedules and other goodies at a table inside the entrance. The scoreboard and entertainment are good for this level of sports.

Final Thoughts

Eichelberger Field is a fun experience and location for watching college softball. It is worth a visit.

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