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By Jeff Reynolds, The Sports Xchange April 29, 2013 3:00 PM
Renovations to Assembly Hall in Champaign, Ill., will include a new name to the arena -- State Farm Center. The University of Illinois and State Farm announced a 30-year, $60 million naming rights agreement Monday. Assembly Hall is 50 years old, and major renovations to the arena where the Fighting Illini basketball games and major concerts and events are held were announced in 2012. A 30-year, $60 million agreement changes the name of the building to State Farm Center as the structure undergoes a major renovation project that is scheduled for completion in the fall of 2016. "We are extremely proud to announce this relationship with State Farm, one of the most respected corporate brands in the world," Illinois Director of Athletics Mike Thomas said. "State Farm has been an outstanding partner for the University of Illinois for more than two decades, and this agreement will carry that partnership forward for at least three more. The Assembly Hall is one of the most recognizable structures in the nation, and at 50 years of age, has served the U of I campus, community and Central Illinois very well. This agreement will ensure State Farm Center will serve those same constituents, and even more, for many years to come." Utility work at State Farm Center and the surrounding grounds is tentatively scheduled to begin this summer. The first major phase of the project isn't expected to begin until March 2014. State Farm Center is scheduled to be completed in time for the 2016-17 basketball season. "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," Thomas said. "This agreement complements support from campus and our students while supplementing support from the community."