Update on Illinois Assembly Hall renovation plans (video)



Illinois Fighting Illini basketball celebrated the 50th anniversary of Assembly Hall (the REAL Assembly Hall, unlike the one where the Hoosiers play, which came second, Champaign’s Assembly Hall came first) by squeaking by Big Ten doormat Nebraska 72-65 and unveiling the Assembly Hall renovation plans during the final Illini home game . A video showed CGI visualizations of what the new Assembly Hall renovation will look like. And the senior day victory over the Cornhuskers is exactly 50 years from when the Assembly Hall first opened its doors on March 2, 1963.

The new website for Assembly Hall renovations was launched yesterday with the brand name “Illinois Renaissance.” Two big changes to Assembly Hall were revealed this past Friday at a press conference in Chicago: the building will finally have air conditioning, and Hall naming rights are now up for sale. I’ll have more on this when I publish my exclusive with Illinois Athletic Director Mike Thomas in the next couple days.

So who should the new corporate sponsor be? Comment below.

And check out the cool artist rendition of the new Assembly Hall


It is not certain yet how much the Assembly Hall renovation will cost. As of April 2, 2008, the Assembly Hall was added to the annual top ten endangered Illinois historic places list, as published by Landmarks Illinois, a non-profit historic preservation group. The only other endangered athletic site on the list is the Cubs Wrigley Field in Chicago.

So when does this all get started?

“If we hit our all our benchmarks, thresholds, we’d be looking to start the heavy lifting on the construction in approximately March of 2014,” Thomas said Friday.

Will the Illini have to find a new home, like the United Center or something during the renovation?

“And the project will be done in stages. We do not plan to be the Washington Generals, we do not plan to go all over the state of Illinois to play games. We will continue to play those games at Assembly Hall,” Thomas said. Adding that the project will be done during the college basketball offseasons, and put on hiatus during the regular season. It should be completed by November of 2016.

Paul M. Banks is CEO of The Sports Bank.net, a Google News site generating millions of visitors. He’s an author who also contributes regularly to MSN, Fox Sports , Chicago Now, Walter Football.com and Yardbarker

Banks has appeared on Comcast SportsNet and the History Channel, as well as Clear Channel, ESPN and CBS radio all over the world. President Barack Obama follows him on Twitter (@PaulMBanks)

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