Arena to be renamed Lou Henson Court will debut just before Christmas
According to a report in the August 20 edition of the Chicago Tribune, reporter Shannon Ryan mentioned that the work is nearly 2/3 complete.
When the Illini debut in their newer surroundings on the night of December 20 against Mike Brey’s Notre Dame Fighting Irish, the Orange Crush group of orange clad, rowdy student fans will increase from 570 people to around 1,200. More importantly, it will also ring around 2/3 of the court surface and should provide a rather interesting view for the cameras with the fans going crazy behind both teams’ benches.
About 80 percent of this $169.5 million project, which is both on time and on budget according to Illinois Associate Athletic Director Warren Hood should be complete by the time John Groce leads his team in some early season game at their temporary home court in Springfield.
The locker rooms will still be a work in progress and the updated scoreboard won’t be ready until November 2016. The other big change will be where the teams will enter and exit the court. The old Assembly Hall setup had the Fighting Illini players and coaches using the old tunnel, but going forward all visiting players and referees will be utiliizing that old tunnel with Illinois getting an upgrade on the opposite end of the court.