State Farm Center: A place that’s made memories


By Camron Owens

Our campus is always growing and evolving. From our recent addition of the new Electrical and Computer Engineering building to the upcoming renovations on Green Street, change is something that Campustown and our university’s facilities are constantly undergoing. Many of these facilities play a large role in bringing people and prospective students to campus.

One of the more recent and more talked about changes involves the former Assembly Hall, or what is now the State Farm Center. Because of the many events it hosts, this location has always been a big venue for attracting people to the University.

After the University struck a deal with State Farm Insurance Co., it was clear that our University’s beloved “spaceship” was going to undergo some big changes. I, like many, was sad to no longer traditionally call the building Assembly Hall, as I had always known it.

I was also skeptical of how the so-called “good neighbors” at State Farm would treat our beloved campus building. After all, the building has been listed as an “endangered Illinois landmark” in the past, making it sound like the building would be destroyed or undergo some dramatic changes.

Now, with construction underway to renovate and update the over 50-year-old building and more details coming out about the “Illinois Renaissance,” I know that these changes will improve a building we are fortunate enough to have on campus. This campaign seems to be about rejuvenating and re-inspiring the State Farm Center.

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One of the main reasons that I, like many, had concerns about these renovations was because the building holds a lot of special memories for me. I remember my parents taking me to different events at Assembly Hall growing up.

Seeing basketball games and shows at this venue when I was younger, or working the concession stands to raise money for one of my class trips are special experiences that I had in this building. My positive experiences there are part of what made me decide to come to the University. Alumni and current students that I know have also had many memorable experiences in this venue.

By looking at the impact the State Farm Center had on me growing up, it’s clear that its service extends beyond University students. This sort of outreach is something that other buildings with smaller spaces can’t seem to quite match.

The ability to host different high school tournaments and events for activities like basketball and wrestling not only gives small high schools like mine an opportunity to play in an NCAA facility, but it entices students and familiarizes them with the campus.

To those who live in central Illinois especially, the State Farm Center is more than a multipurpose arena; it’s a window to the world. Thanks to the size and structure of this building, our campus has been able to attract big performances that may not have come to this area. Huge artists such as U2, Kanye West, Pearl Jam, Ludacris and Elton John have played this venue, giving our campus a first row seat to some of the biggest musical acts in history.

So as the renovations continue, even though we can’t currently use the State Farm Center for certain events, I think we should look toward the future. No matter how difficult or sad it might be to see something special change, we have to remember to look on the bright side.

When all we can see are forklifts and construction on the outside, it’s easy to forget the unique changes going on inside.

Better seating, more concessions, WiFi and other improvements are all planned. I think many of us could agree that these will help make experiences at the State Farm Center much more enjoyable.

However aggravating or disappointing the hiatus on these concerts and shows may be, I think it is important to remember that these changes will only improve future events to be held there. The renovations will allow us to have a state-of-the-art facility to compliment the world-class entertainment it provides.

Much like the lesson taught in “Toy Story 3,” sometimes we have to let go of things we love so that they may have a better future. 

When the construction is complete, the building may appear vastly different on the inside, however its purpose will remain the same, just as it always has. For all of the events that it has hosted and memories that it has helped make, the State Farm Center is definitely a building deserving of an innovative face-lift.

Camron is a junior in LAS. He can be reached at [email protected].