$160M Assembly Hall Upgrade - Wandtv.com, NewsCenter17, StormCenter17, Central Illinois News-

$160M Assembly Hall Upgrade

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University of Illinois Athletic Director Mike Thomas says construction should begin in March 2014 on the long-planned renovation of Assembly Hall.

Thomas said Thursday that the $160 million project still needs university trustees' approval but would modernize the 50-year-old saucer-shaped building. Air conditioning would be added and concourses widened. Courtside student seating would be increased and suites added.

The athletic director said the arena's capacity would drop from 17,200 to about 15,200.

The work would be done in phases so the school's basketball teams aren't forced to play games elsewhere. Work would end in 2016.

Thomas said about three-quarters of the money would come from donations. He said a plan to sell naming rights is still being worked on.

Thomas hopes to take the plan to trustees in May.

Basketball coach John Groce tells WAND News he thinks the Assembly Hall renovation will help with recruiting.

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