Assembly Hall Illinois
The deafening crowd noise, intense matchups and electric atmosphere that the Assembly Hall at the University of Illinois has been home to for decades has now come to a close.
Opening in March of 1963, the Assembly Hall held its last game Wednesday night and will now undergo multi-million dollar renovations to improve the arena that holds 17, 085.
Renamed the State Farm Center in 2013, construction of the new stadium took place immediately following the Illini’s 69-57 win against the Nebraska Cornhuskers. Workers began stripping down bleachers and seats in what will be a 24-hour effort to get Illinois’ new home ready for the start of the 2015-16 Big Ten conference season.
The renovations are much-needed, and they will undoubtedly create an even more intense atmosphere than the one the arena held for so many years. But the $169 million project, funded by State Farm, now forces fans of the old Assembly Hall to say goodbye to decades of memories that the arena gave them.
The legendary 1989 Flyin’ Illini brought highlight after highlight all the way to its historic Final Four, and showed fans high-flying dunks and out-of-this-world athletic feats that earned them the “Flyin’” moniker.
The 2004-05 season brought the record-setting 37-2 squad that featured a 29-0 start, a national championship game appearance, a Sports Illustrated magazine cover and two of the best (and most popular) Illini to ever put on a uniform in Deron Williams and Dee Brown.
In between those two seasons were great moments such as Andy Kaufman’s Assembly Hall-record 46 points against Wisconsin-Milwaukee in 1990, as well as Kaufman’s famous buzzer-beating three-pointer to upset the no. 9 Iowa Hawkeyes in 1993.
Brandon Paul’s 43 points to fuel the upset of no. 5 Ohio State in 2012 is one of the most recent high points, as well as the Illini’s frantic comeback two seasons ago against no. 1 Indiana, including Tyler Griffey’s unforgettable layup at the buzzer which inspired a wild court storming from the U of I students.
Historic upsets, controversial calls and countless pulse-pounding last-second shots have breathed life into the Assembly Hall for years. But now it is time to move on to bigger and better things.
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