Illinois athletic director Mike Thomas details Assembly Hall funding

Director of Athletics Mike Thomas announced Thursday that 75 percent of the $160 million Assembly Hall Renovation Project will be funded by donors. 

In early March, students approved a referendum for a $25-per-semester fee, which will cover 17 percent of the cost.

Thomas said about 8,000 season ticket holders, as well as I-Fund donors, who supply financial gifts to the athletic department, will be receiving brochures in the mail this week outlining premium seating and suite prices at the renovated Assembly Hall. 

The deadline for them to respond to the brochure is April 19.

The premium seating outlined in the brochures will make up 10 percent of the total seating. But Thomas said some seating will be lost because of the overhaul of the A and B sections that will start from “ground zero.” 

The new capacity will be between 15,200 and 15,300, and student seating in the lower bowl will increase from 700 to 1,200.

The premium seating detailed in the brochure will include 12 suites with 14 seats, 80 four-person mini-suites, approximately 1,000 club seats and 120 courtside seats.

Thomas said the estimated total cost of the project is between $260 and $300 million once it is paid in full over the course of the 30-year bond.

The Los Angeles-based architectural firm AECOM submitted its design to University officials Nov. 1, and construction will take place from March 2014 to November 2016. Thomas said basketball seasons will not be affected.

The Board of Trustees approved the proposed design earlier this month, which allowed the project to move forward on design development. Once the proposal is approved by the board at its May 29 meeting, utilities construction can begin, Thomas said.

He said the overall renovation, which includes the addition of air conditioning, will allow for use of the facility another four months out of the year in order to attract more events.

Thomas said that the renovations will be attractive for fans that visit Assembly Hall and they will provide different opportunities than in the past.

Other changes to the Assembly Hall will include a new overhung scoreboard and ribbon boards.

“Every inch in this building will be renovated,” Thomas said.

Dan can be reached at welin1@  dailyillini.com.