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The Dagger: College Basketball Blog

Illinois renames its arena, and many Illini fans aren’t pleased about it

Jeff Eisenberg
The Dagger

Indiana and Illinois fans have long battled over which campus housed the real Assembly Hall.

That argument is now moot.

Illinois announced Monday afternoon that effective immediately, its venerable 50-year-old basketball arena will be known as State Farm Center. The insurance company struck a $60 million 30-year deal for the naming rights.

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. The $60 million will help fund a $160 million in renovations to the arena, a project that should improve the fan experience at Illinois basketball games and aid the recruiting efforts of coach John Groce and his staff.

"From the very early stages of this project, it was clearly apparent that naming rights for the building would play a major part in the funding model," Illinois athletic director Mike Thomas said. "This agreement complements support from campus and our students while supplementing support from the community."

Indiana fans have been quick to claim victory in the Assembly Hall war, but it's possible a name change may be on the way in Bloomington too. Indiana athletic director Fred Glass told the Indianapolis Business Journal in February that he'd consider selling the naming rights to Assembly Hall if an individual or corporation came forward with a lucrative offer.

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