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Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Illinois basketball: Assembly Hall is now called the State Farm Center

The renovation plans for the Assembly Hall have been announced in the past months, but a major announcement came in at a 2 p.m. Monday press conference in Champaign.

The Assembly Hall will be renamed for the first time in the history of the 50-year structure. Thanks to a 30-year, $60-million deal with State Farm Insurance Company, Assembly Hall will now be known as the State Farm Center.

The naming rights will go into effect immediately, as the dome prepares to go under a major renovation that will last from March 2014 until the start of the 2016-17 basketball season.

Illinois athletic director Mike Thomas said at Monday's press conference that the partnership with State Farm will go a long way.
"We are extremely proud to announce this relationship with State Farm, one of the most respected corporate brands in the world," Illinois director of athletics Mike Thomas said. "State Farm has been an outstanding partner for the University of Illinois for more than two decades, and this agreement will carry that partnership forward for at least three more. The Assembly Hall is one of the most recognizable structures in the nation and, at 50 years of age, has served the UI campus, community and Central Illinois very well. This agreement will ensure State Farm Center will serve those same constituents, and even more, for many years to come."
The State Farm Center (Assembly Hall) opened on March 2, 1963 and has since played host to Illinois men's and women's basketball, concerts and IHSA state wrestling meets. It used to also serve as the state championship site for high school boys' and girls' state tournaments.
During those 50 years though, the structure has become outdated.
Changes for the State Farm Center will include
  • New seats
  • New ribbion boards, scoreboards and speakers
  • Additional restrooms, concessions and apparel stores
  • Orange Krush, the Illinois student section, will see an increase in seating from 700 to 1,200. They will also have a meeting spot inside the arena before each game begins.
  • New suites (14), loge seating and other tickets that will grant access to new clubs (Tradition and Courtside).
The cost of the project is an estimated $160 million. To help raise the needed money, the State Farm Center will have many opportunities for naming rights, from entrances to the court to the clubs.

Thomas said in a previous press release that the upgrades will help Illinois continue to contend in basketball by attracting big name recruits to the campus.
"The Illinois Renaissance is an integral step in keeping Fighting Illini basketball among the nation's elite programs, and it promises many benefits not only for the basketball teams, but also for University of Illinois students, alumni, statewide Illini fans and the Central Illinois community at large."
Below is a video released by IlliniHD productions showing what the newly designed State Farm Center will look like at the end of the renovation.

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