Eastern Illinois Panthers Overview

Fast facts

League: NCAA Division I FCS

Head Coach: Chris Wilkerson

Team Mascot: Billy the Panther

Year Opened: 1970

Capacity: 10000

City / State: Charleston / Illinois

Rivalries & Top Games to Attend

Mid-America Classic

Rival Team: Illinois State Redbirds

The Mid-America Classic between Eastern Illinois and Illinois State began in 1901 and is the oldest college football rivalry in Illinois. Despite not having played in the same conference since 1995 the two schools typically meet each year helping preserve the intense rivalry. Illinois State leads the all-time series 54-41-9, but you won’t want to miss it when the Panthers try to draw nearer when these two meet.

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Eastern Illinois vs Indiana State

Rival Team: Indiana State Sycamores

Fans of both the Panthers and Sycamores travel well to the away games for this rivalry as the schools are only 50 miles apart. The Eastern Illinois-Indiana State rivalry was renewed in 2017, and the two schools will play a home and home series until 2020, so make sure to get your tickets when the Sycamores come to town.

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Eastern Illinois vs Western Illinois

Rival Team: Western Illinois Leathernecks

The in-state rivalry between the Eastern Illinois Panthers and the Western Illinois Leathernecks dates back to 1930. The two teams were conference rivals until the Panthers move to the Ohio Valley Conference in 1996 developing a lot of bad blood between the two programs. While the rivalry hasn’t been played regularly since then, you won’t want to miss it when these two teams meet next.

Eastern Illinois Panthers Tailgate Guide


You’ll want to get to O’Brien Stadium bright and early when attending a Panthers football game. There is a ton to do at an Eastern Illinois tailgate and Panthers fans go all out to throw some of the best tailgates you’ll find in the state of Illinois. Everywhere you look on game days you’ll see a sea of blue tailgating outside O’Brien Stadium as the whole town comes out to support the Panthers.

Eastern Illinois makes it easy for you to set up your tailgate party and join the festivities as there is plenty of space to tailgate. Those of you who are looking to throw a big tailgate bash will without a doubt want to take advantage of Tent City, which offers 40×40 tailgate spots.

In addition to the wealth of people tailgating, Eastern Illinois also provides tons of pregame entertainment. The band concert and Spirit Walk are the perfect way to get into the game day spirit, and if you’re looking for something to entertain the kids, then you won’t want to miss Billy’s Backyard Kid’s Zone. Tailgate fans will also love Tailgate Alley, and die-hard Panthers fans won’t want to miss the opportunity to check out the EIU Hall of Fame inside Lantz Arena.

Tailgating is a huge part of attending an Eastern Illinois football game, so get here early and enjoy all the sights and sounds a Panthers pregame has to offer.


Concert at Booth Library

Concert at Booth Library - The Eastern Illinois Panthers Marching Band performs on the steps of Booth Library an hour before every football game. During the show, they play selections from the halftime show as well as traditional school songs. Stop by Booth Library to enjoy the concert and get into the Panthers game day spirit.

Spirit Walk

Following the pregame concert at Booth Library, the band leads the fans, dance team, and cheerleaders to O’Brien Stadium in the Spirit Walk. The Spirit Walk is one of the best pregame traditions at Eastern Illinois, so make sure to take part in it before the game.

Billy’s Backyard Kid’s Zone

Stop by Billy’s Backyard Kid’s Zone before the game. Billy’s Backyard Kid’s Zone is the perfect place to keep kids entertained before the game and features inflatables, obstacle courses, and other kids activities.

Tailgate Alley

Take some time to visit Tailgate Alley located in the O’Brien Field parking lot. Tailgate Alley has a lot to see and do, so make sure to check it out.

Eastern Illinois Hall of Fame at Lantz Arena

Check out the Eastern Illinois Athletics Hall of Fame in Lantz Arena before the game. The Hall of Fame is located in the main entrance and is a must-see for any Panthers fan.

Where to tailgate

Eastern Illinois Panthers Stadium Guide

In Game

O’Brien Field is the center of all the action going on in Charleston, Illinois on Saturdays in the fall making an Eastern Illinois football game quite the event. Fans from all over the area come out to support the team creating a fun atmosphere inside O’Brien Stadium. If you’re a diehard college football fan, then you’ll love attending an Eastern Illinois Panthers football game.

The fantastic fan support and atmosphere in the stands isn’t the only thing that makes attending a Panthers game a fun experience. The spirit groups at Eastern Illinois also make a trip to Charleston a memorable experience. The band, mascot, cheerleaders, and dance team are all top-notch, so enjoy their performances and the pageantry they provide at the game.

Finally, take a minute to check out the retired numbers banners, which honor two of the best quarterbacks in Panthers history. Tony Romo went onto have incredible success as a player in the NFL, and Sean Payton holds the distinction of being the only coach in New Orleans Saints history to win a Super Bowl. You’ll get to see where it started for these two accomplished individuals making a trip to Charleston a fun one for NFL fans as well.

An Eastern Illinois football game is a fun time for any football fan, so start planning your trip to Charleston, Illinois today.

Things to check out

Retired Numbers

The Panthers have retired two football numbers over the years; 17 and 18. On October 17, 2009, the school retired Tony Romo’s #17 jersey. Romo won Ohio Valley Conference Player of the Year three times during his collegiate career and went onto star as the quarterback of the Dallas Cowboys in the NFL. Sean Payton’s #18 jersey was retired on September 11, 2010. Payton finished his collegiate quarterback career with 10,655 passing yards, holding the school’s career record. He also led the New Orleans Saints to their only Super Bowl championship in 2010 as the team’s head coach.

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Panther Marching Band

Enjoy the performance of the Panther Marching Band throughout the game. The Panther Marching Band puts on a great show and creates a fantastic atmosphere during the game making them one of the most important parts of any EIU football game.

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Panther Mascot

Don’t miss the panther mascot during the game. He gets into a variety of antics throughout the game, and if you get the chance, give him a high-five if you see him in the stands.

Pink Panther Dance Team

The Pink Panther Dance Team will dazzle you with their routines. The dance team is a fun part of any Panthers football game, so don’t leave your seat when you see them take the field.

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Cheer Team

The cheer team pumps up the crowd with their cheers and chants throughout the game, so join in and give the Panthers an incredible home field advantage.

Fight Songs

  1. Eastern State March

    fight song

    We are loyal EIU,
    We’re loyal and true;
    Though the odds be great or small,
    we’ll still be cheering you;
    (Rah! Rah! Rah!)

    Fight you Panthers for the glory
    Of our dear name;
    Fight on for Eastern,
    Come on you Panthers, win this game.

    (E! I! U! E-I-U!)
    (E! I! U! E-I-U!)


  2. Hot Time

    Late one night
    When we were all in bed
    Old Mother Leary
    Left a lantern in the shed
    And when the cow kicked it over,
    She winked her eye and said,

    “There’ll be a hot time
    In the old town, tonight.”

  3. I’m So Glad

    I’m so glad/I go to EIU (3x)

    Singin’ “Glory Hallelujah”!
    I go to EIU!

  4. For Us Arose

    Alma Mater

    For us arose thy walls and towers;
    Their beauty, strength, and grace are ours.
    Thy hills and prairies at thy feet
    For us in lovely landscape meet.
    So must our hearts remember thee,
    So may our lives a tribute be;
    Strong, true, and beautiful and brave and free,
    So shall our hearts, our hearts, remember thee.

  5. E-I-E-I-EIU- chant

    E! I! U!

Eastern Illinois Panthers Bars & Restaurants

  1. Marty’s


    Marty's Bar is Charleston's favorite location for beers, burgers and fun!

    1666 4th St, Charleston, IL 61920, USA

    Bar website

    sportsbar - $

  2. WB’s Pub N Grub

    Jack Browns Beer Burger Joint The Bear Brew Pub Homestead Restaurant

    Food is flavorful and mouth-watering. Service is excellent.

    409 7th St, Charleston, IL 61920, USA

    Bar website

    american - $$

  3. Mac’s Uptowner

    Bull McCabes Irish Pub beer

    Video Gaming with ergonomical seating, listen to live bands, friendly staff, pool, foos ball, and darts.

    623 Monroe Ave, Charleston, IL 61920, USA

    Bar website

    american - $

  4. Roc’s Blackfront Restaurant

    Tooties Restaurant Burger Galaxy Diner Burger Chicken Box Restaurant Burger Buddys BBQ Burger TJs Restaurant Burger Lazy Palm Sports Bar and Grill Burger Skids Iggys Sports Grill

    Succulent steaks, mouth-watering ribs, along with great sandwiches, and burgers you can stack as high as the sky!

    410 6th St, Charleston, IL 61920, USA

    Bar website

    american - $$

  5. Lefty’s Holler


    Lefty's Holler is a bar that supplies cold beer, good drinks, and great company.

    727 7th St, Charleston, IL 61920, USA

    Bar website

    american - $$

  6. Brick House Bar


    Traditional American cuisine from the finest cuts of beef in the Midwest to the freshest catch from the Gulf of Mexico. The Saturday Night Prime Rib offering has become the talk of the town.

    920 W Lincoln Ave, Charleston, IL 61920, USA

    Bar website

    american - $$

  7. Panther Paw Bar & Grill

    Bar Champs Beer Tailgates Sports Bar and Grill Rhody Joes

    An awesome place to watch any game on TV and grab some great drinks!

    1412 4th St, Charleston, IL 61920, USA

    Bar website

    american - $

  8. Lincoln Garden Family Restaurant

    City Cafe

    Visit Lincoln Garden Family Restaurant for a savory meal throughout the day.

    703 W Lincoln Ave, Charleston, IL 61920, USA

    Bar website

    american - $

  9. What’s Cookin’ Restaurant and Catering

    Whats Cookin Restaurant and Catering

    Charleston’s go-to spot for family gatherings, weekend breakfasts, and hometown service for more than 35 years.

    409 7th St, Charleston, IL 61920, USA

    Bar website

    american - $

  10. Pagliai’s Pizza

    OHOP Orono House of Pizza

    Serving delectable pizzas for over 50 years.

    1600 Lincoln Ave, Charleston, IL 61920, USA

    Bar website

    cafe - pizza - $$

  11. McHugh’s Double Drive Thru

    The Fat Frogg Bar and Grill

    Good food, good, friendly service, and definitely a great place to stop by when hungry!

    4 Lincoln Ave, Charleston, IL 61920, USA

    Bar website

    american - $

  12. Los Potrillo’s

    La Corona Taco La Chiquita Tacos Taco Corono Mexican Restaurant Tacos El Burrito Loco

    Excellent food and great service!

    1305 Lincoln Ave, Charleston, IL 61920, USA

    Bar website

    mexican - $

  13. Dirty’s Bar and Grill

    Dirtys Bar and Grill salad

    When you’re looking for fresh food and great drinks in a fantastic atmosphere, come on over to Dirty’s!

    706 Lincoln Ave, Charleston, IL 61920, USA

    Bar website

    american - $$

  14. Smoky’s House BBQ


    Outstanding BBQ cuisine, excellent service and friendly staff.

    300 W Lincoln Ave, Charleston, IL 61920, USA

    Bar website

    bbq - $$

  15. Joey’s Place

    Original Joeys Place burger

    If you're looking for a place to get hearty, delicious food on campus, stop into Original Joey's Place. Here, we bake our own buns, grind our own hamburgers, and cook our burgers the old-school way to give you a better tasting burger than any other restaurant in town.

    850 Lincoln Ave, Charleston, IL 61920, USA

    Bar website

    american - $