Krush pledges $1 million to renovation

Krush pledges $1 million to renovation

Student group will get own hospitality room in return

Orange Krush leaders say the group's $1 million pledge to the State Farm Center renovation isn't just a brick-and-mortar investment.

The University of Illinois' charitable student cheering group sees it as a way to expand its impact — both on the court and in the community.

"This is an investment not only in the Orange Krush and the State Farm Center but in the future of the Orange Krush," said UI junior Ryan Gant, president of the Krush Foundation board.

"With the renovation, we'll be able to almost double our seating from about 600 seats on the floor to about 1,200.

"The more people we can involve, the more people we'll have to donate to the more than 50 organizations and local charities that we support."

For their donation, announced Friday, the Krush will get a hospitality room of their own — the Orange Krush Club — to congregate in before, during and after Illini basketball games.

"A place to wait inside" for games, Gant said. No more shivering in the cold hours before tipoff while studying stats.

Friday's marked the sixth seven-figure gift for State Farm Center naming rights that the UI has announced in the past two months — and the fundraising for the $160 million overhaul is far from over. With just one more men's home game left (Tuesday versus Michigan) and construction set to ramp up (Thursday marks the "official start date" for renovations), the UI still lists online 11 other "naming opportunities" for prospective donors.

A branch of the Illini Pride student organization, the Krush has raised more than $2.7 million for the university and local and national charities since 1998. During the 2013-14 season alone, donations have gone to Cunningham Children's Home, the Eastern Illinois Foodbank, the Center for Women in Transition, Girls on the Run, Camp New Hope and Warm a Kid.

"I think the charitable aspect of the Orange Krush is what makes it unique," said UI senior McKennon Biers, a former Krush chairman and foundation board president. "We're up there with the best (student sections) in the country on the court. But what we do in the community puts us over the top. Our members really get behind it."

Biers said the seven-member foundation board decided to make the State Farm Center donation last year, but held off on the announcement as they'd previously committed to raising $500,000 for the Lou Henson Coaching Endowment Fund.

"With this project coming along, it made sense that we support it," Biers said. "It reflects students, campus and community, which is kind of like our motto. So reinvesting in the State Farm Center serves all three of those pillars."

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Local Yocal wrote on March 01, 2014 at 1:03 pm
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"The University of Illinois' charitable student cheering group sees it as a way to expand its impact — both on the court and in the community."

Truly a symptom of a people who have lost their minds to their own detriment. If you want to pass the hat for something worthwhile, try these statistics for your charitable giving:

— Amount the Illinois General Assembly appropriated for the MAP program for the current year: $373 million.
— Approximate number of Illinois students expected to apply for MAP grants: 280,000.
— Approximate number of Illinois students expected to receive MAP grants: 140,000.
— Average MAP grant: $2,500..

A million dollars might not be much statewide, but assisting just those students who wish to attend the U of I would be an important "impact," not just a chance to scream in front of an ESPN camera.

sanjuan wrote on March 01, 2014 at 2:03 pm

@Local, Checking in from the no good deed goes unpunished department. Geez.  I'm no fan of what college sports have become, but let us give Krush some credit for the $2.7-million they've previously given to the university and charities.   It's not like that room will be exclusively theirs.  Along with some of the other changes it will help draw conferences and meetings to C-U.   

Local Yocal wrote on March 01, 2014 at 7:03 pm
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"...let us give Krush some credit for the $2.7-million they've previously given to the university and charities...[the renvovations] will help draw conferences and meetings to C-U."  

True, the Krush has done other charity work so my psychiatric diagnosis may be extreme, and hopefully you are right about the future conferences and meetings. (Like maybe a certain high school basketball championship tournament?) Still, $160 million smackeroos for air conditioning and skyboxes around an arena. Couldn't we think of something more crucial to do with a $160 million dollars?

sanjuan wrote on March 02, 2014 at 6:03 am

@Local,  I do agree with you about the overall project, but thought Krush deserved props for their past work.   Fewer families will be able to afford to attend Big Ten games under the new pricing structure.  They'll still throw us a bone with cheap tickets to games against the likes of Mother Teresa Tech, but they're headed down a road much more suited to professional sports.  Oh, wait....

C in Champaign wrote on March 04, 2014 at 1:03 pm

I can't believe I'm going to say this, but I agree with Local on this one. As I was reading, I couldn't help but think how little "charity" there is in donating money to a bloated renovation at the StateFarmCenterAssemblyHall. I can think of dozens upon dozens of projects at the University and at local charities that could benefit from the $1 million pleged by the Krush. Call me crazy, but when they went out to raise the funds for charity, the people who donated probably weren't thinking that their money would be used for something like this. They probably thought they would be helping people and oganizations who really NEED help, not making life more comfortable for a student cheering section for 12 or so games a year. What a con job by Thomas... give us $1 million, and you dont have to stand outside when you get to the game.

UIUCHoopFan wrote on March 05, 2014 at 10:03 am

Props to Krush for their continued support of University and Community endeavors.  Now here's the proverbial BUT........that was the perfect opportunity to name the court.

~ Lou Henson Orange Krush Court ~

The hospitality room in the works for Krush was theirs no matter what.  Speaking of the hospitality areas, the "Inclusive Illinois" mantra goes right out the window with specifically segregated areas for Krush, Rebounders, I Fund Donors, and the lowly general public. 

Lots of season ticket holders sat in The Assembly Hall for the last time last night, choosing not to renew long standing season ticket commitments.  Sadly, those folks only represent fans and loyalty which doesn't buy much at The First National Bank of AD Thomas.