State Farm Center opened as Assembly Hall on March 2, 1963 and continues to attract attention for its design and construction. From 1963–1965 Assembly Hall was the largest dome structure in North America until the opening of the Astrodome in Houston, Texas. The roof is supported by 614 miles (988 km) of one-quarter inch steel wire wrapped at the base of the dome under intensive pressure. The architect was Max Abramovitz, a University of Illinois alumnus.
State Farm Center hosts home games of Illinois Fighting Illini men's basketball and Illinois Fighting Illini women's basketball and has earned a reputation as one of the toughest places to play in college basketball, thanks to the student cheering section, the "Orange Krush," which occupies the floor around the court as well as some seats.
At the annual "Paint the Hall Orange" game, everyone in attendance would wear an orange shirt, resulting in an impressive and intimidating environment. In recent years, however, it has become customary for Illini fans to wear orange at all home games and so the official "PTHO" game was discontinued after the 2007-08 season.
In August 2015, prior to the reopening of the newly renovated State Farm Center, the hardwood floor was dedicated and named Lou Henson Court in honor of the Illinois Fighting Illini men's basketball all-time leader in victories Lou Henson.High attendance for game: 17,087 (Illinois 64, Michigan 52, 2/12/2015)
Low attendance for game: 3,016 (Illinois 90, North Dakota State 73, 12/8/1975)
High attendance for season: 282,506, 2006-07 (17 games, 16,618 avg.)
Low attendance for season: 72,949, 1973-74 (11 games, 6,632 avg.)
Consecutive sellouts: 60, (12/1/2005 - 3/8/2008)
Most sellouts in a season: 17 (2006–07)
Overall – 50, Von McDade, Wisconsin-Milwaukee...12/3/1990
Illini player – 46, Andy Kaufmann...12/3/1990
Most field goals
Overall – 19, Rudy Tomjanovich, Michigan...2/22/1969
Illini player – 17, Andy Kaufmann...12/1/1990 & Eddie Johnson...12/8/1979
Most field goal attempts
Overall – 44, Von McDade, Wisconsin-Milwaukee...12/3/1990
Illini player – 34, Nick Weatherspoon...1/27/73
Best field goal accuracy (10 shot minimum)
Overall (Illini player)
– 11/11, Derek Harper...2/19/1983
Illini player – 10/10, Ken Norman...12/14/1985
Most three-point goals
Overall – 9, Von McDade, Wisconsin-Milwaukee...12/3/1990
Illini player – 8, Brandon Paul...1/10/2012, Trenton Meacham...11/19/2006, & Dee Brown...3/3/2005
Most three-point field goal attempts
Overall – 22, Von McDade, Wisconsin-Milwaukee...12/3/1990
Illini player – 16, Kevin Turner...1/3/1998
Best three-point field goal accuracy (5 attempts minimum)
Overall (Illini player)
– 5/5, Jamar Smith...12/6/2006
Illini player – 5/5, Sean Harrington...11/26/2000
Most free throws
Overall – 17, Wayne Radford, Indiana...3/2/1978
Illini player – 17, Kiwane Garris...3/5/1997
Best free throw accuracy (10 attempts minimum)
Overall – 14/14, C. J. Kupec, Michigan...1/2/1975
Illini player - 13/13, Kendall Gill...2/8/1990
Overall – 23, Joe Franklin, Wisconsin...12/19/1966
Illini player – 23, Nick Weatherspoon...3/2/1971
Illini player – 15, Bruce Douglas...12/14/1985
Illini player – 7, Kendall Gill...3,4,1990, Kenny Battle...3/9/1988 & Bruce Douglas...12/8/1986
Illini player – 11, Derek Holcomb...12/8/1978
Illini player – 60, Bruce Douglas...1/28/84
The third largest Illinois arena after the United Center in Chicago and the Allstate Arena in Rosemont, State Farm Center has just over 16,000 permanent seats, with an official capacity of 16,618 for basketball games, but when portable chairs are placed on the floor for an in-the-round performance there is a potential of up to 17,200 depending on the size of the stage.
State Farm Center has hosted a variety of Illinois High School Association events. It has been the home of the state individual wrestling tournament since 1967. From 1963 to 1995, State Farm Center played host to the state finals of the boys' basketball tournament. From 1978 to 1995, it also hosted the IHSA girls' basketball tournament.
State Farm Center is also the venue for the annual News-Gazette Broadway Series, which features popular musicals such as Les Misérables, Miss Saigon, Rent, and Fiddler on the Roof.
In the autumn of 2008, school officials, led by former Athletics Director Ron Guenther, conducted a study to decide whether to refurbish the then-named Assembly Hall or build a new basketball arena. In 2010 a decision was made to renovate rather than replace the building. The architectural firm AECOM has been selected and awarded a contract to design the renovation. Surveys were sent out to I-Fund and season ticket holders to gauge demand for various premium seating options. This information is being used to create schematic drawings and architectural renderings near the end of 2012, which would be used by former Athletics Director Mike Thomas to aid in fundraising for the project. The anticipated renovation cost is between $150 and $160 million, and construction would not start before spring of 2014. As part of the renovations, the naming rights to the arena were purchased by State Farm Insurance for $60 million over 30 years.
The State Farm Center began renovations following the 2013–14 men's basketball season. Additions of luxury suites, club/loge seats, and all new blue color seats are included in the renovation. In the luxury suites and club level seats, there will be concessions where alcoholic beverages will allowed to be served as well as a buffet area. The total budget for the renovation was estimated at $169.5 million.
The construction process did cause some conflicts with scheduled sporting events at the beginning of the 2016 fiscal year. The first five games of the 2015 Men's basketball season were played at the Prairie Capital Convention Center in Springfield, while the first five games of the 2015 Women's basketball season were played at Parkland College. The State Farm Center's first game was played on December 2, when the Fighting Illini fell to Notre Dame 84–79.
The following corporate sponsor, Fighting Illini benefactors, former Illinois Fighting Illini men's basketball players, and University of Illinois at Urbana–Champaign alumni have donated sizeable contributions towards the $169.5 million renovation cost of the State Farm Center.Kenney Gym (1905–1925) located on the campus of the University of Illinois and is named after Harold E. (Hek) Kenney. The arena opened in 1890 and was originally known as the Men's Gym Annex.
Huff Hall (1925–1963) opened in 1925 and was known as Huff Gymnasium until the 1990s. It is named after George Huff, who was the school's athletic director from 1895 to 1935.
Assembly Hall/State Farm Center (1963–present)