In November of 2000, the doors opened at the state-of-the-art Irwin Indoor Practice Facility, which began construction in June of 1999. Designed by RATIO Architects of Indianapolis and Severns-Reid and Associates and Isaksen-Glerum PC Architects, the $12.5 million facility was constructed using private donations, including the initial gift of $7.5 million, given by the Irwin Family Foundation, which was also responsible for the building of the Irwin Academic Services Center.
The floor of the 77,327 square-foot, 80-yard field is covered by AstroPlay, an artificial turf surface with the feel of natural grass. Its long strands make for fewer injuries and a softer surface. The Irwin Indoor Practice Facility is located just east of the Intramural Physical Education Building adjacent to the Fighting Illini football locker room and the outdoor football practice fields allowing flexibility to work indoors or outdoors during the different seasons.
The facility features a semi-parabolic dome slanted roof which reaches an internal height of 50 feet. A large single arched box truss is utilized spanning the length of the playing field; this center truss is arranged asymmetrically so that its spring point is higher at the south end and lower at the north end allowing for place kicking into the south end netting. The multi-purpose facility also features retractable netting which surrounds the field and can be used to split the facility in half. In addition to this netting four full-size batting cages can be dropped from the ceiling for baseball and softball batting practice.
The unique architectural design of the building fits with the historical significance and architectural integrity of Memorial Stadium and surrounding University of Illinois buildings with its red brick exterior and slanted roof. The exterior of the building is clad primarily with the University blend brick, detailed with limestone and has some larger areas of articulated metal panels in the color of limestone. The interior features a smooth wall surface and uses both direct lighting fixtures and natural light.
The baseball and softball teams utilize the facility for training purposes, mostly in the preseason, although both teams will move practice indoors during the season when inclement weather dictates. Winter baseball and softball camps are also held inside the facility. The soccer team utilizes the facility for early spring training purposes. Irwin Indoor Practice Facility also serves as the home of the annual Illinois Indoor 7v7 tournament held every February.
In line with the Irwin Family Foundation's request the Division of Campus Recreation utilizes the facility for select student groups when space is limited during the early months of the spring semester.