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The facility opened in 1960 and has undergone a series of updates in the 58 years since.

But none quite like this.

"I don't think it's an overstatement to say we'll be opening a new Memorial Stadium this fall," Indiana athletic director Fred Glass said Tuesday.

With the enclosure of the south end of the stadium, which houses a new health and wellness center for IU athletes, Memorial Stadium does indeed appear to be a facility transformed. With IU's home opener against Virginia looming on Sept. 8, Glass is excited about what that means for the gameday experience this fall.

Glass on Tuesday detailed a list of changes, updates and new initiatives for the 2018 Indiana football season, beginning with the new south end zone facility.

While the inside of the facility is geared toward the athletes — not the public — the outside of the building itself will change the experience of Saturdays in Bloomington for years to come.

"I always thought the North End Zone was awesome, and it is," Glass said. "But it kind of goes off into parking. This really embraces the campus and I think will be a real invitation for our fans to come and support Indiana football. … The enclosure of the bowl, a dream of many for a long, long time, will be a dramatic improvement."

Knothole Park, which most recently occupied a space beyond the end zone where children could frolic on a miniature field, has been moved atop the terrace that overlooks the south end zone. It will feature mini games, a painting station and concessions.

There will also be a new LED videoboard that, at 91-by-42 feet, is 65 percent larger than its predecessor, Glass said. Overlooking the field will be 12-foot-high block letters spelling out "INDIANA."

And, for the players, new construction will soon begin on the Terry Tallen Indiana Football Complex, which will enhance the football locker room as well as create a new team lounge and recruiting area.

"I really believe that, hopefully in the not-too-distant future, we'll look back to this fall and maybe even this particular day and say that may be a tipping point (for) when Indiana football put itself in a position to have sustained excellence," Allen said. "I think a bunch of things are coming together at one time to create a moment in time that, not withstanding what's gone on before, will really propel us in a dramatic way into the future."

Some other changes for 2018 include:

New helmets

Indiana's athletic department spent $130,000 on new football helmets Glass touts as the safest on the market.

The Riddell SpeedFlex Precision-Fit helmets will be worn by every IU player this fall.

"It utilizes two different layers of 3-D scanning technology to make a custom helmet for every individual player," Glass said. "It sits tight on their head in a way no other helmet really can. ... Our equipment and medical staff believes this helmet is the safest helmet available in the marketplace."

Decal for Mallory

To honor the life of Bill Mallory, the winningest coach in Indiana history, the Hoosiers will wear a special helmet decal this season.

The decal is a white football with "COACH MALLORY" written inside.

And it may only be the first of many Mallory tributes to come.

Glass said he would imagine that, at some point in the future, a more permanent tribute would be installed somewhere at Memorial Stadium.

"He was so larger than life and had so much impact beyond being the football coach," Glass said. "It was on the formation of young men. It was on the department. It was on the Bloomington community. I think this will be a continuing process of honoring him."

New uniform policy

Fans may need to bring a roster to IU games this fall, particularly if they care to identify players.

Indiana has removed the nameplates from the backs of its football jerseys, because "IU Athletics is about team over self," Glass said.

In recent years, football was the only sport in the department that included player names on the jerseys. That's no longer the case.

"Our name will be on the front of our jerseys and not on the back," Glass said. "We are laying claim to being the flagship university. We are gonna proclaim it with Indiana across our chest in football and we will no longer have our names on the back of our regular season jerseys."

Less congestion

Glass said all four lanes of Ind. 37/Interstate 69 will be open for traffic for each of Indiana's home games this season.

Once fans arrive in town, they can take advantage of free football gameday parking at the Poplars Garage and Henderson Garage. A free shuttle service will pick up fans from the Poplars Garage and the Indiana Memorial Union and transport them to the stadium.

New capacity

With the construction of the new facility and new ADA-compliant viewing areas, capacity has decreased from 52,929 to 52,656.

This article originally ran on heraldtimesonline.com.

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