Operation on schedule, weather or not

CHAMPAIGN — Despite a soggy month so far, the renovation of State Farm Center remains on schedule.

The $165 million renovation, dubbed the "Illinois Renaissance," kicked off in earnest in March after the last men's home basketball game. Since then construction crews — an estimated 90 workers are regularly on the site, plus architects and project managers off site — have been busy with the early phases of the project.

"With as much work as we're doing on the west and east sides and the two huge holes there, when it rains it does slow down some of the work, but we're in good shape with the schedule," senior associate athletic director Tom Michael said.

"There's no concern about whether or not we'll play basketball in November. There are no issues there," he said. "We're looking forward to the next few months and continuing to make good progress," Michael said.

The early part of the work has entailed a lot utility and site preparation. Inside, all the C-section seats have been removed and some "vomitories" or entryways have been demolished. New seats will be added there later, beginning in mid- to late-August.

The biggest difference fans will notice is on the east and west sides of the building where there are the two new, giant holes that Michael referred to. Those basements, at 25- to 30-feet deep, will eventually house all the new mechanical systems for State Farm Center.

The next phase of the renovation project begins when the basketball teams return to the building and the focus shifts to work inside those new basement mechanical rooms.

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