Smile Politely

What’s the best experience you’ve had at the Assembly Hall or State Farm Center?

A black and white photo of a portion of an arena, with people filling the seats and a portion of a white domed roof.
State Farm Center on Facebook

The Assembly Hall opened its doors 60 years ago today, and it got me thinking about just how many shows, sporting events, and more have happened in that space. I’ve attended many. I don’t know that it’s the ideal space for a basketball game, or the best venue for a concert or musical, but it’s what we have and I’ll keep showing up there.

A screenshot from a video that centers an image of a newspaper page. The page shows Dee Brown in an orange Illinois uniform raising his hands into the air.
Screenshot from Big Ten Network

My favorite sports moment was probably the Illinois-Wake Forest game on December 1, 2004. We had this immensely talented team, and this game was the first big test of just how talented. My spouse and I had a newborn, and we had come this close to giving up our season tickets that year, because you know, newborn. Thanks to my mother-in-law and her offer of babysitting, we kept the tickets. The building was vibrating, and the atmosphere became downright explosive as Illinois ran Wake Forest out of the building, handing us the number one spot in the country for the remainder of the season. Sigh. I miss that team.

I’ve seen numerous music acts, Broadway shows, and comedians there as well. I even slept on the sidewalk to procure tickets for a concert! Janet Jackson in 2002 was pretty unbeatable as those experiences go.

What is your favorite moment?

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