Illinois, State Farm Ink 30-Year, $60M Naming Rights Deal For Assembly Hall
Univ. of Illinois basketball arena Assembly Hall "has a new name: the State Farm Center" after the school yesterday announced a 30-year, $60M agreement with the Bloomington-based insurance company, according to Christine Des Garennes of the Champaign NEWS-GAZETTE. Some utility work on the venue "may begin this summer," but a $160M renovation project "is not expected to begin in earnest until March 2014, with completion in November 2016." The school "will start using the new name sooner rather than later," as State Farm Center will be "referenced for the building immediately and be incorporated into the building at the earliest availability as the project moves forward." Donations "are expected to cover" about 75% of the cost of the renovation (Champaign NEWS-GAZETTE, 4/30). YAHOO SPORTS' Jeff Eisenberg wrote the name change "predictably hasn't been received well by Illinois fans, many of whom are pledging to still refer to the building by its former name." A corporate name change to "a hallowed building is an easy target for criticism, but Illinois fans would be wise to remember what they're getting out of this deal" (SPORTS.YAHOO.com, 4/29).