CHAMPAIGN, Ill. – Illinois wrestling is officially moving all future home competition from Huff Hall to the State Farm Center, the program announced on Wednesday. The Fighting Illini have wrestled at Huff Hall since 1925 when Kenney Gym Annex was replaced by Huff. During that time, Illinois has crowned 23 NCAA Champions and 75 Big Ten Champions. The Illini wrestling program will join men’s and women’s basketball as the only teams on campus to compete at the State Farm Center.
“The State Farm Center is a very special place to me and everyone in the state of Illinois,” said head coach Mike Poeta. “For those that grew up here it’s the Mecca for wrestling, hosting the Illinois High School state tournament for over 50 years. I want to thank our administration for all their hard work in making the State Farm Center our new home for Illinois wrestling matches. They share the same vision for our program and are committed to doing everything it takes to be the best team in the country.”
The Illini hosted several meets at the State Farm Center during the 2021 season, the first of which was a tri-meet with Ohio State and Wisconsin on January 17th. The Illini picked up a pair of wins over the two Big Ten conference foes, and would later host Nebraska at State Farm Center for the final home dual meet of the season. These two meets marked the first time that the Orange and Blue competed at the State Farm Center since 2013.
Following the 2014 basketball season, the State Farm Center underwent a $169.5-million project, which included a renovated seating bowl and the addition of four levels of premium seating; improved restrooms, concessions and a team store, and numerous other amenities and improvements. The state-of-the-art arena seats 16,618 fans but has seen three 17,000-plus attendance games since the 2015 season.
The State Farm Center currently hosts the Illinois High School Association Wrestling Championships each year, an event which has been held in Champaign for over 50 years. High school wrestlers from around the state compete all season for a chance to wrestle at the State Farm Center at the conclusion of each wrestling season.
“The overall show and fan experience will be better, but we know the way we wrestle will always be the most important,” said Mike Poeta. “Our style has to be exciting and always looking to score points. It has to be a tough place for visiting teams to compete in. It’s the only way we’ll have the crowds we want. We’re motivated as a team to put out a product worthy of competing at such an iconic arena.”
Original Source: Illinois Athletics