Huff Hall Gets a Facelift
July 24, 2014
Champaign, Ill. - Huff Hall has undergone significant renovations this summer, demonstrating the University's commitment to the sport of volleyball. The changes are highlighted by a brand new competition floor that not only features the Illini's new logos, but replaces the basketball court with a surface that provides more absorption, catering to volleyball safety. Additionally, the fan seating area has undergone several modifications, including new bleachers on the east and west sides, as well as new permanent seating on the south end.
"The most exciting part of it to me is the fact that it means that we're going to stay in Huff for a while," said Head Coach Kevin Hambly. "There's been talk for a long time of moving us out of there, and the reasons for getting us out of there are valid, but it's hard to beat the experience you have in Huff; it's hard to beat that kind of venue for competition. The renovation and the investment in that will make the experience better for our players but I think also for the fans, and that's exciting."
The new competition surface, from Action Floor System, allows more give in the floor and has an air thrust pad that allows a cushioning response when used. It is expected to absorb more of the athletes' jump, which should help alleviate the wear on the body.
"No one will see it unless they go play on it, but some people have played on it during camp and have said that they can tell the difference," said Hambly. "The floor we had at Huff was pretty good, but this floor is state of the art. It's a floor that's for jumping and landing, and that's what we do in volleyball. We're not a sport where we're bouncing the ball off the floor, so having a little more absorption in the floor is a big deal and should reduce long term injuries and should keep our legs fresher.
"You can tell when you play on a hard floor. I could see it in my team the next day, the players talk about it in their joints. Hopefully it allows us to train harder, longer, and recover faster. Time will tell; we don't know until we're on it, but at least in theory and based on what we're hearing, it should have a great impact on us physically."
Off the court, the University has installed brand new downstairs bleachers that span the length of the east and west sides of the stands. Anyone entering an empty Huff Hall will immediately notice the change, as the six sections on each side sport giant orange lettering, spelling out "ILLINI" on each side. Additional permanent seating has been added on the south end where movable risers used to be placed, increasing the volleyball seating capacity from approximately 4,050 to 4,536. These end sections will be reserved for students and band, allowing the Spike Squad student section to wrap around the southwest corner.
Fans will be happy to hear that in addition to the new seating options, four new giant fans have been installed above the seating areas, two on each side, to help with better air circulation and to keep spectators cool especially early in the season. Additionally, the University plans to add a new men's and women's restroom in the basement of Huff, to be completed in mid-October.
"I would like to thank Mike Thomas, Tom Michael, Paul Kowalczyk and all the administrators," said Hambly. "Kathy Hug headed up the project along with Tom, and it's been exciting to see them invested in volleyball."
Fans will have their first opportunity to experience the renovations on Saturday, Aug. 23, when the Illini host the annual Alumni Match at 7 p.m. The 2014 regular season then kicks off the following Friday night at 7 p.m., when the Illini host Long Beach State for "Stuff Huff" to open the Illini Classic on Aug. 29. Season tickets are on sale now at http://bit.ly/1deKxFI or by calling 1-866-ILLINI-1.