When it's time to take the court, Illinois has an outstanding home in Assembly Hall, which has served as home to the Fighting Illini men's basketball program since its construction in 1963 as well as the home to the Fighting Illini women's basketball program from 1981-93 and 1998-99 to the present. In 1999 it became even better after a multi-million dollar construction project that brought the teams new locker rooms, a training room and dining area, as well as a new tunnel area to accommodate network television trucks and team buses. The most recent addition to "The Hall" was a $1.7 million state-of-the-art video board installed prior to the 2005 season.
The Fighting Illini men's team opened play at the Assembly Hall on March 4, 1963, with a 79-73 victory over Northwestern. Since that first game, the Illini have racked up a 501-134 (.789) mark. Illinois has sold out 224 games at the Assembly Hall, which seats 16,618. Illinois ranked 13th in the nation in home attendance last season. The Illini have been ranked in the Top 25 nationally for home-games attendance for 31 straight years, and were in the nation's Top 15 every year over the past decade.
Fans help turn the Assembly Hall into a sea of orange for every Illini home game, with practically every person in attendance proudly wearing orange. That, combined with the Orange Krush student cheering section surrounding the court, gives the Illini one of the best home court advantages in the country.
The Fighting Illini women's team opened play at the Assembly Hall on Nov. 20, 1981 with a 79-66 victory over Loyola. The Illini finished their first stint at The Hall on March 13, 1993. After playing five seasons in the gymnasium at Huff Hall, with three single games at the Assembly Hall, the Fighting Illini moved back down Fourth Street permanently on November 23, 1998. The women's team has brought in a multitude of fans for games played at the Assembly Hall with its largest crowd being the 16,050 fans that entered the gates on Feb. 23, 1997.
In addition to hosting the Fighting Illini, the Assembly Hall also holds performances for Broadway musicals, concerts and other shows. Some of the recent shows and performers to take the Assembly Hall stage have been Aerosmith, Dave Chappelle, T.I., Elton John, Ludacris, Kanye West, Nelly, Dave Matthews, Pearl Jam, Prince and U2.
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