IWU Stadium to Be Named on Saturday, Sept. 3
September 1, 2011
BLOOMINGTON, Ill. — The Illinois Wesleyan football stadium will be named Tucci
(pronounced Tu-chee) Stadium in pre-game ceremonies at 12:45 p.m. on Saturday,
Sept. 3 prior to the Titans' 2011 home opener against Hope.
The stadium will be named in honor of University alumnus and benefactor Byron Tucci,
whose gift allowed for the installation of a synthetic playing surface on Wilder
Field, the fifth oldest NCAA football field in the country, which will see its
first official game action Saturday.
Tucci, a lifelong resident of Bloomington and a 1966 Illinois Wesleyan graduate
with a double major in business administration and economics, has been a long-time
supporter of Illinois Wesleyan, serving on the Leadership Giving Board for decades.
He is also a trustee of the University, a member of the Illinois Wesleyan Associates
and the Preston Wood Society of the University Giving Club.
In 2010, he established a new endowed professorship for Illinois Wesleyan University
as part of the school's Transforming Lives capital campaign. The Byron S. Tucci Professorship is the 11th such endowed professorship
at Illinois Wesleyan.
"Byron's generous gift will enable hundreds of student-athletes to benefit from
the use of the field for many years," said IWU President Richard F. Wilson. "His
support for this project and his previous commitment to establish an endowed
professorship reflect his abiding interest in sustaining the quality of the academic
and athletic programs of the university. We are delighted to acknowledge the
commitment he has made to athletics by naming the stadium in his honor."
Tucci Stadium, built on the site of Wilder Field, has been used for University
athletic contests for over 117 years. The new artificial turf field allows for
practice for not only football but soccer, preseason softball and baseball and
intramural activities as well. Local groups will also have an opportunity to take
advantage of the new field, making it another community resource, much like the
The average field can last around 10 years. Tucci, along with a number of other
IWU alumni and friends have already contributed to a replacement fund, which will
cover the costs of a new turf when the current field wears out.
Field, Stadium History
Workers installed artificial turf on the football field this summer.
Since the spring of 1893, Wilder Field has been available for use by students (who
had contributed $500 toward its purchase price). The field was named for Rev. William
Henry Wilder, IWU president from 1888-97 and the first alum to serve as University
president. According to research in 2000 by sports information director B.B. Branton
of the University of the South, the IWU football field is the fifth oldest in the
nation, behind Wesleyan (1881), Williams (1883), Sewanee and Amherst (both 1891).
In 1937, ground was broken for a community stadium on Wilder Field under the sponsorship
of IWU, the Bloomington Association of Commerce, and several city athletic associations.
Funds for the project were obtained through the Works Progress Administration,
a New Deal agency, and, given the depressed economic times in America, construction
of the stadium was considered unprecedented. It took four years for completion
of the $200,000 project, which seats 3,500 spectators.
Previous renovation in 2000 made improvements to the field and stadium, providing
new sod, drainage tiles, and watering system, and moved the field 10 yards east
to aid the curve of the new track. A visitors' locker room was built below the
stadium bleachers, where IWU uses the original locker room space for its pre-game
meetings, and there is a "Titan Wall", signed by former IWU football players.
The 2000 renovation also returned lights to the venue and a night game was played
in 2002 for the first time since 1973.
Contact: Stew Salowitz, 309-556-3206