What State Farm Center really needs is ...
Three years and $165 million from now, State Farm Center will look a whole lot different than the place where you watched Kenny Battle slam, Elvis jam and Billy Graham.
With construction under way at the home of the Illini, we asked a few Assembly Hall veterans: If money were no object, what would be the first upgrade on your to-do list?
'The Voice of the Illini'
"As the former PA announcer for the Illini, my top priority would be the best sound system money could buy. Clearly heard information for our great fans and those involved in the games is important."
1997 Big Ten Women's MVP
"I would create holograms of former coaches and players for fans to interact with, maybe even play a little one-on-one against."
UI civil engineering professor
"I think the best improvement would be occupant seating comfort — more legroom and more cushy seats. Why should we sit like we are always in coach class? I know this translates to fewer seats and reduced ticket sales, but you said money was no object."
Donated $500,000 for locker room naming rights
"I would add covered parking under State Farm Center. It's often extremely cold and windy entering and exiting basketball games. It would be awfully nice if folks could park in a climate-controlled, totally covered parking garage. You could leave your garage at home, park in the garage at the arena and you wouldn't even have to bring a coat."
WDAN sportscaster turned Danville mayor
"My first renovation is automated ejector seats so that on any and every big-game moment by the Illini every fan is forced to their feet by the push of a button. Engineering note: Be careful not to turn the power up too high for fear that some dunks may lunch fans into another section."
UI's No. 2 alltime scorer
"I dont remember seeing this in the renovations but I would have a Jumbotron that shows when a ref makes a bad call, so the greatest fans in the NCAA can go crazy on them for missing a call or making a mistake."
Sang anthem for last 2 home wins vs. Indiana
"How about a giant Block-I-shaped section of student seats hanging from the ceiling over the entire court? The Orange Krush would literally be on top of the action during games. Talk about a unique homecourt advantage."
UI civil engineering professor
"Design seating to bring students in closer and assign the dead alumni in Section A to some remote boxes. I would like the old lady who once shushed me because I was too loud to be moved back as far as possible.
"As an engineer/architect, I see the bowl of Assembly Hall as being too shallow, and by lowering the floor one could create opportunity to fill in the flat half-circle sections of A, thus bringing the crowd closer to the court. The empty half-circle was driven only by the original design that Assembly Hall be multi-purpose, but it clearly hurt the basketball game layout."
UI's alltime leader in assists, steals
"I've played there in the summers, so I would have to say air conditioning. It gets extremely hot playing there. During timeouts, it seems like it's even hotter, with no place to cool off."
UI architecture professor
"The studio spaces of the Annex building of the architecture school are literally falling apart. Instead of creating lavish sports arenas and gyms with hot tubs, universities should try to find out again what their core mission is and try to allocate funds accordingly. In other words: the renovation should be first and foremost low budget, and respectful of the original design of the building."
Building inspector/fire chief, City of Tuscola
"I went to a national conference of the Boy Scouts of America, Order of the Arrow, shortly after the Assembly Hall opened. It was the first time I had been there and I remember being absolutely amazed by it. So I have longtime fond memories of Assembly Hall and don't have a clue how you could make it better."
Champaign, interior designer
I think it would be great if there were some box areas that individuals could rent for a game at a time-maybe even a lottery. Something like they do at the Cardinals games in St Louis. This would be of great interest to the public rather then just to the private.
Associate dean, UI School of Architecture
Make sure the acoustics of the space are as acceptable for the many events held there as the din of noise desired for a basketball game.