The first total solar eclipse over the U.S. since 1979 will force head coach Nick Hill's Southern Illinois football team to alter its fall camp practice plans.
"Sunday we'll be over at the track field. We'll come back (to Saluki Stadium) on Tuesday for practice out here because we won't practice on Monday," Hill said in his Aug. 12 post-scrimmage press conference posted on YouTube.
According to published reports, the eclipse will delay the beginning of the school year for SIU students.
Monday is when the eclipse will reach its point of greatest duration just a few miles south of Carbondale. Saluki Stadium will be one of the major locations hosting a wide variety of events leading up to and on the day of the eclipse.
According to the Southern Illinois University website, "NASA Eclipse 2017, the Adler Planetarium of Chicago and the Louisiana Space Consortium could have selected any spot along the path of totality to provide programming and conduct scientific experiments, but they all chose to partner with SIU Carbondale."
Hill isn't bothered by the change in practice venue and plans.
"That's what's nice about having that other field. It's just as big as this one, there's no goalposts, but we'll get a good practice in," Hill said.
For the majority of the remaining athletic staff (with the exception of in-season coaches), everyone will have a role as SIU plays host to what many in the media have described as "a carnival-like atmosphere." That means you may have a staff member parking satellite trucks or a coach working in the concession stand.
Saluki Stadium has sold out as a place for spectators to view the eclipse. According to the SIU website, suite packages at the stadium offered "an unobstructed view of all activities on the field." Prices for the suite packages were listed on the website:
- 20-person suite (four available): $10,000
- 16-person suite (six available): $8,000
- 12-person suite (one available): $6,000
Paved parking is sold out on campus, but some parking is available in grassy lots. While the ticketed event at Saluki Stadium sold out, other eclipse events on campus are open to the public at no charge.
The frenzy has been felt throughout the region and state. Amtrak said that a special 409-seat train ride taking passengers along the route of the Aug. 21 solar eclipse sold out in 22 hours.
In addition to being the first U.S. solar eclipse in 38 years, it is the first to sweep coast-to-coast across the nation in nearly a century. The eclipse in the Carbondale area is expected to last roughly 2 minutes, 38 seconds.
It is also expected to bring an estimated 50,000 visitors, a figure that is nearly double the population of Carbondale, at 25,902.
"It’s such a crazy all-hands-on-deck situation down here for that day," one SIU official said. "Everything is shut down."