March 2nd 1963. This was the day Assembly Hall was opened and ready for operation. For almost everyone reading this, Assembly Hall has been home to Illinois Basketball and numerous other events for the University Of Illinois. Well…. not anymore.
This past April, University of Illinois trustees gave final approval to the Assembly Hall’s new name — the State Farm Center.
The State Farm Center will be the home to Illinois basketball. The center will be undergoing a $165 million renovation of the facility called the “Illinois Renaissance.”
The State Farm Center will begin construction in March of 2014, exactly 51 years after the original opening date of Assembly Hall. The center is expected to be available in the fall of 2016, prior to the 2016-17 basketball season.
So what does this mean for Illinois students’, faculty and fans?
Based in Bloomington, Illinois, it makes perfect sense for the Insurance agency to have an iconic staple close to home. One thing is for certain: you can expect to see an abundance of State Farm ads and billboards around the facility.
The agency will have its name displayed on several prominent signs on the building’s interior and exterior. Logos will appear on tickets, programs, on the media backdrop used for press conferences and other events, as well as on special passes. State farm also has exclusive rights to reject any advertising from car, fire and auto insurance companies for the University.
As for the University of Illinois, this is a very lucrative partnership. According to campus spokeswoman Robin Kaler, State Farm agreed to pay the university $1.5 million for the naming rights and $500,000 for sponsorship rights every year for 30 years. State Farm’s first payment to the university allegedly occurred June 30, 2013.
So how can this renovation be beneficial?
For one, this can attract potential prospects and recruits. In this day and age, top athletes expect the best of the best and want state of the art equipment and facilities. Playing in a brand new facility attracts attention, competition and most importantly, more media.
This is also the only State Farm Center in America. The name Assembly Hall was a shared name with Big Ten rival, Indiana University. (Who really wants to share with them?)
With exclusivity, this gives the University of Illinois a chance to brand a breed of Champions. As for anything new, it is often hard to accept change. For most students and alumni this building will always be Assembly Hall but I believe this change is ultimately for the best.
The only thing we can do as students, faculty, alumni and fans is wait.
The real question is….what will you call it?