University of Illinois Tailgating

The University of Illinois is part of the Big 10 Conference and home to Memorial Stadium. The school retired its mascot in 2007, but the spirit of the Fighting Illini lives on at every home game. Pack up the kids and the RV and head to Champaign, Illinois.

Event information

The University of Illinois is part of the Big 10 Conference and one of the biggest schools in the midwest. With over 50,000 students enrolled, the school is a top academic destination that also serves as a research institution, but their academic achievements share the stage on Saturdays to make way for game day.

Memorial Stadium, built in 1923, is the venue for football games and seats 60,000 orange-and-blue-wearing fans. On game days, two and a half hours before kick-off, the team commences its Illini Walk, which takes them around Memorial Stadium as fans cheer them on. Not present during events is a mascot, which the school retired in 2007 after the NCAA deemed Chief Illiniwek as offensive. The lack of mascot, however, has not stopped supporters from attending every home game.

Tickets to see the Fighting Illini are surprisingly affordable, and even their RV parking prices are reasonable. The home crowd is passionate, and tailgate parties tend to be lively. In other words, there is no better place to be on Saturday than at Memorial Stadium in Illinois.


As part of the Big 10 Conference’s West Division, the University of Illinois competes against high-ranked teams on a weekly basis, though the ticket prices are not as expensive as you might think. On average, tickets have sold in the upper $30s, but there are sometimes tickets that sell for less than $10. The Fighting Illini also participate in other sports, such as basketball, if you’d like to show your support. Sports such as baseball, soccer, softball, tennis, and others are often free to attend.

Explore University of Illinois Tailgating RV Rentals



The campus of the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign is situated perfectly in between Chicago; St. Louis, Missouri; Indianapolis, Indiana. Several major interstate highways pass through the city, which means you won’t have a hard time reaching the campus on game day, but you’ll need to think about where to park. A few local street closures usually take place beginning the day before the game.

Parking areas

While RVs are restricted to a single lot, there is the option to park early on Friday evening to camp overnight. Head to Lot 33 the day before the game or be there early in the morning on game day. The cost to park usually runs about $40 if you buy the parking in advance, or fans might pay $50 on game day. The lot closes by late evening on the day of the game, or one hour after the game ends if it takes place at night.

Public Transportation

To get to and from the stadium, use the Champaign-Urbana Mass Transit District (MTD) service, which offers a special weekend route for Fighting Illini Fans. The Tran-Sport 280 route boards passengers from various locations and begins two hours before kickoff. Once the game starts, the final trip to the stadium begins 15 minutes after that time. The final shuttles for the return trips arrive 30 minutes after the game ends. The cost to ride route 280 has been about $2 in the past, which is an outstanding deal.

Where to stay


While the parking lot may lack in amenities, the school makes up for it by offering overnight stays. Lot 33 opens the day before the game (usually a Friday evening) and the overnight parking pass costs about $40 if purchased in advance. If you'd like to stay overnight at the University of Illinois parking lot, you'll likely pay an additional $50. Saturday overnight parking is not normally available.


Fighting Illini fans may encounter a small selection of campgrounds near the university, but that should be no problem as long as you don’t mind a bit of driving. If RV spots are not available within the City of Champaign, the surrounding communities of Mahomet and Rantoul are less than 20 miles with additional campgrounds.

About 30 miles away from Champaign, the Kickapoo State Recreation Area is a great place to stay for the night. This piece of protected land offers excellent views, fishing, and hiking, and, most importantly, there are two campgrounds with enough spaces to accommodate you and your camper trailer. Kickapoo has been known to offer camping year-round, but may only offer amenities during some seasons.

Getting around

Getting to the stadium is as easy as hopping on the Tran-Sport shuttle, but there are alternative options on campus for fans with mobility issues. An ADA shuttle is offered for those who park in the ADA shuttle lot, but there is also a golf cart shuttle service for everyone else. The golf cart shuttle picks up passengers from several lots, including the RV parking lot, beginning two hours before kick-off.

What to pack


When traveling to see a game at Memorial Stadium, remember to glance at the weather forecast when packing. As the season starts around September, expect cool, but not cold, temperatures that drop even further by the season’s end in December. It’s recommended that you pack warm clothing. Also, don’t forget your University of Illinois items, which you’ll want to wear on game day to show your pride.


Once you’ve packed all your clothing and essentials, it’s time to prepare for the tailgate. You might not forget to include a grill but also remember to bring a table to display your bounty and a few chairs for your guests to sit. If you want a bit of entertainment, bring a portable speaker, but don’t crank it up too loud for the sake of your fellow tailgaters.

Health & Safety

If grilling, always keep an eye on the flames to make sure it’s safe, especially if there are people close to your tailgating spot. Another thing you’ll want to prepare for are accidents, which can happen at a moment’s notice. Pack a first-aid kit, as sold at most supermarkets, and keep it in your RV for emergencies. A well-placed bandage can make the difference between continuing with the Fighting Illini fun and going to the hospital.

Where to eat


While tailgating may involve cooking and care of your guests, preparing the food the night before can be simplified with your RV kitchen setup. Take advantage of the overnight parking and save yourself some stress on game day. Remember that a tailgate is for fun, so enjoy the food you’re serving with plenty of taste testing. Include a fruit salad of just blueberries and oranges to boost team spirit. Keep your meal prep simple, and enjoy yourself!


In the Urbana-Champaign area, you’ll find many great, affordable restaurants that offer a wide range of cuisine. Some of the best-rated eateries are pizzerias, gastropubs, and BBQ joints. You’ll also find Chinese, Italian, and Mexican restaurants that can be a welcome sight after a long day of travel to Eastern Illinois.


While you may have double-checked your packing list before you left home, it’s possible you forgot your favorite piece of Fighting Illini apparel. Don’t worry; it happens to the best of us. Instead of attending the game in plain clothes, head to Grand East or West halls within the stadium to shop for the latest and greatest school gear. You can also head to the Grange Grove tailgating lot before the game to purchase Fighting Illini-branded clothing.



As with other stadiums in college football, Memorial Stadium has a strict clear bag policy that prohibits unclear bags larger than a clutch purse. Apart from diaper and medical bags, which must be inspected, all other bags must be clear. Guests are allowed to use a clear food storage bag if they wish.


As with other stadiums in college football, Memorial Stadium has a strict clear bag policy that prohibits unclear bags larger than a clutch purse. Apart from diaper and medical bags, which must be inspected, all other bags must be clear. Guests are allowed to use a clear food storage bag if they wish.


If you’re in need of assistance, Fighting Illini Stadium has two first-aid rooms located on opposite sides of the property. There are Illini Emergency Medical Services technicians throughout the stadium that can help you as well. The school also provides ambulance service for all home football games.