Opinion | State Farm Center will always be Assembly Hall


The Daily Illini Photo File

Senior columnist Noah Nelson believes that the name Assembly Hall still lives on regardless of who purchases it.

By Noah Nelson, Senior Columnist

Rewriting history isn’t always great.

Across the street from the historic Memorial Stadium sits a glowing structure bearing resemblance to a spaceship. For over a half-century, it’s been home to the Illini men’s and women’s basketball teams and has held countless other events like concerts, Broadway shows, Illinois High School Association wrestling state championships and so much more.

Currently, it’s called State Farm Center. But for Illini fans like me and thousands of others, many of us still call the venue by its former name: the Assembly Hall.

Close to a decade ago, the University made a major change. State Farm Insurance became a major sponsor of the facility and thus secured naming rights. This then created a dramatic adjustment for everyone, especially fans like me. At the time, I didn’t think about it at all. I was in middle school, so the name change didn’t affect my life. It did, however, dwell on my conscience when I began attending the University.

For the past four years, any time I mention the facility, I refer to it by its former name. Some friends and folk look at me in confusion. Others correct me by calling it its current name. The new name has been around long enough now that many people forget about the original name, thinking the current one has been there all along. Others, like myself, make sure the current name — Assembly Hall — is properly utilized and advertised.

Get The Daily Illini in your inbox!

  • Catch the latest on University of Illinois news, sports, and more. Delivered every weekday.
  • Stay up to date on all things Illini sports. Delivered every Monday.
This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy Policy and Terms of Service apply.
Thank you for subscribing!

Throughout childhood, I attended several Illini basketball games and two WWE Live events at the facility. All of my ticket stubs bear the original, precise name.

I’ve always said Assembly Hall for as long as I could remember. And I’m not changing it anytime soon. I imagine the same issue occurred when the famous Sears Tower was changed to the Willis Tower in 2009. I now see how frustrating it must have been for locals and visitors alike.

Frequently, I declare the famous phrase: “If it’s not broken, don’t fix it.” This should have been the case with the Assembly Hall before State Farm purchased the name.

Additionally, University community members past and present should’ve had a say in the name change. Though none of us can time travel, hopefully, this doesn’t happen once more in the future, especially to other venues like the Memorial Stadium.

The Assembly Hall name has now become a faded part of school history, much like Chief Illiniwek. I don’t see either of those historical features returning anytime soon, but it’s never a bad idea for wishful thinking.

Noah is a senior in Media.

[email protected]