- Associated Press - Thursday, August 20, 2015

CHAMPAIGN, Ill. (AP) - A $165 million renovation of the State Farm Center will be about 80 percent complete when the basketball arena opens on Dec. 2 for the University of Illinois’ match against University Notre Dame, according to athletic department officials.

During a tour of the venue on Wednesday, senior associate athletics director Warren Hood said the renovations are currently about 64 percent done. He added that the project is on budget and on schedule.

Since the public last was allowed inside the arena on March 4, crews have been working to demolish old seating and pour concrete. Upgrades to the stadium include improved student seating, additional bathrooms and new concessions.

Half of the building’s windows have been bumped out 10 to 15 feet to create “a lot of extra square footage in the concourse areas,” Hood said.

Six elevators, five for regular passenger use and one for service use, are being installed in the arena. Crews also are completing the newly designed “grand entrance” on the building’s west side and a new circle drive entrance on the east side of the arena.

“For the last four or five months it’s been a very difficult project to walk around, for safety reasons,” Hood said. “The demo was quicker than we thought and that was helpful.”

Although the arena’s overall capacity for basketball games will shrink by about 1,000 seats, the student seating area will more than double its size, from 570 to 1,200 seats, Hood said. The student seats also will be retractable to provide more room for concerts and other special events.

“It got to the point where there were concerts we couldn’t host because there was not enough room on the floor,” Hood said.

Several items, including a new center-hung scoreboard, team locker rooms and a new training room, won’t be installed until the final completion date next November, the (Decatur) Herald & Review (https://bit.ly/1fs0zy1 ) reported.

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Information from: Herald & Review, https://www.herald-review.com


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