Illinois renames arena for sponsor cash – ESPN

Illinois renames arena for sponsor cash

Something that slipped by me earlier in the week, this very busy and interesting sports week.

An adjustment to the University of Illinois athletic landscape that doesn’t seem like that big of a deal (lord knows it isn’t being played in the media as such), but I’ll play it up a little.

The arena formally known as Assembly Hall, home of U of I basketball and for years the Illinois state basketball tournament, will become the State Farm Center starting in 2016 after a big renovation project, as reported here by ESPN’s Eamonn Brennan and elsewhere online.

This is a development that I can’t help but be interested in– Assembly Hall had to have been one of the first stadium names that I became familiar with while watching U of I basketball in the early 90’s. Yeah, its supposedly a blah name, but even most corporate sponsored names are boring too, especially in this era of KFC Yum! Centers and potential private prison stadiums.

To that end, State Farm Center is a perfectly fine name actually– it is a company that is based in central Illinois and it is a trusted, national brand. It may benefit the Illini program beyond the $60 mill they’re getting over 30 years (those insurance companies know how to spread that money out) to be associated with such a company.

So all in all, this is something I’ll get over, but I’ll miss Assembly Hall — the goofy arguments that its the same name as Indiana’s stadium doesn’t faze me. I don’t know how that happened but the fact that they both had the name helped enhance their rivalry in the sport to me. The supposed blandness also stood out in a timeless way in our ever-corporatized era of changes to various aspects of public education.

It’s good to know that a renovation is coming with a name change. The stadium that exists now — the one that hosted Johnny “Red” Kerr, Ben Wilson’s only state title run, the Flyin’ Illini and the Lou Doo — should only be called Assembly Hall. I tell you this though, if the profitability hawks start coming for Soldier Field then I’m poppin the trunk.

Kyle Means, Regal Radio

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