State Farm Center to have “grand reopening” with four consecutive events

The State Farm Center will host various artists including The 1975, Dierks Bentley and Pentatonix.

Fireworks+go+off+as+the+Illinois+basketball+team+comes+onto+the+floor+before+the+game+against+Ohio+State+at+the+State+Farm+Center+on+Thursday%2C+January+28.+The+Illini+lost+in+overtime+68-63.
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State Farm Center to have “grand reopening” with four consecutive events

Fireworks go off as the Illinois basketball team comes onto the floor before the game against Ohio State at the State Farm Center on Thursday, January 28. The Illini lost in overtime 68-63.

Fireworks go off as the Illinois basketball team comes onto the floor before the game against Ohio State at the State Farm Center on Thursday, January 28. The Illini lost in overtime 68-63.

Austin Yattoni | The Daily Illin

Fireworks go off as the Illinois basketball team comes onto the floor before the game against Ohio State at the State Farm Center on Thursday, January 28. The Illini lost in overtime 68-63.

Austin Yattoni | The Daily Illin

Austin Yattoni | The Daily Illin

Fireworks go off as the Illinois basketball team comes onto the floor before the game against Ohio State at the State Farm Center on Thursday, January 28. The Illini lost in overtime 68-63.

By Aaron Navarro, Assistant Daytime Editor

 

After two years of construction, the State Farm Center will launch its “grand reopening” with a series of concerts featuring The 1975, Dierks Bentley, Pentatonix, as well as  a men’s basketball game during the last weekend of October.

From Oct. 27 to Oct. 31, the State Farm Center will host an event every day. This “grand reopening” will mark the first use of the facility since complete renovation, said Kevin Ullestad, director of the State Farm Center.

The planning for this weekend began early last semester. It’s part of the reason the Center remained closed to the touring industries and started sending offers to artists in the past year. For instance, Ullestad said the Center sent its offer to The 1975 back in March.

“We intentionally opened up that weekend, we have been working at this for seven to eight months, trying to get shows in that grand opening weekend,” Ullestad said. “We wanted to kick it off in grand fashion with three shows and a basketball game, so it will be a big event.”

The overall renovation process began in March of 2014. Since then, the arena has seen an on- and-off relationship with construction, with most of the work occurring in the summer as to keep it open during the men’s and women’s basketball seasons. Right now, the arena is in  the last stage, called “phase six.”

Phase six entails the following updates to the center: all new dressing, training and locker rooms, restrooms and concession stands are being added to the upper concourse, a new ten millimeter scoreboard/videoboard (which Ullestad said is twice the size of the old one), a new 220-foot-long LED ribbon board above the premium seating space area, a new sound system and a new Hall of Fame showcase in the west lobby.

“Those are the highlights. Of course, there are the mechanical issues at play, but those are the highlights of phase six,” Ullestad said.

Manager of Communications and External Relations for Facilities and Services Steve Breitwieser said that Facilities and Services has been overseeing the process, planning and management for the Center’s renovation, as it does for other campus construction.

Phase six is on schedule to finish, Ullestad said. The goal was to complete the phases by late October to early November.

With almost two years since the State Farm Center has hosted a concert, Ullestad said this is its chance to get back in the game.

“We traditionally do 20-25 national touring shows in the course of a year,” Ullestad said. “That’s the major part of a renovation, is to get all the facilities for the shows, and for the general public to come and enjoy the facility.”

With Homecoming landing on the same weekend, Ullestad said that he anticipates a great student draw.

“We’re excited to have this lineup. You look at a hot country artist, an alternative rock band in The 1975, and then the pop act in Pentatonix, so there’s a little bit of everything there,” Ullestad said.

Country artist Dierks Bentley will kick it off on Oct. 27, followed by The 1975 on Oct. 28 and the band Pentatonix on Oct. 29.

The men’s basketball team will wrap up the weekend with an exhibition game against Washington University on Oct. 30.

“I’m excited, happy to get the building running again,” Ullestad said. “It’s a big deal; we’re looking forward to that grand opening weekend.”

Tickets for all of the shows and the basketball game are available online at fightingillini.com.

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