UI Assembly Hall Gets Makeover

The 17,300-capacity Assembly Hall at the University of Illinois could be in for a makeover and a drop in capacity with news of a proposed $160 million renovation project.

Updates to the arena, which just celebrated its 50th birthday, would include 12 new suites, restrooms, concession areas, locker rooms and dressing rooms, increased floor-level seating, wider concourses, a video scoreboard and a new main entrance featuring a Hall of Fame.

Trustees for the university are expected to give final approval for the project in May. Construction, which would be conducted in three phases, could begin as early as March 2014 and wrap in November 2016.

In return for its updated features, the building’s capacity would be reduced to just over 15,000, though officials consider the renovations to be a good tradeoff.

“The wow factor will reflect the history of our great program,” Athletic Director Mike Thomas said during a press conference.

Thomas noted that 75 percent of the project will be covered by donations and a new student fee. Naming rights for the arena will also be offered for sale.