The State Farm Center is not the only athletic facility that received renovations this summer, Huff Hall has undergone a $1.2 million renovation to improve the volleyball program.
The changes for Huff, announced one month from the season opener, include a new three-layer sub-floor competition surface that replaces the basketball court surface that will provide more absorption of player's jump to prevent wear on the body.
"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."
"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."
New bleachers on the east and west sides have been added, as well as new seating on the south end. The six sections spanning the court have "I-L-L-I-N-I" spelt out in orange lettering. The additional seating also increases the capacity to 4,536 and allow the vocal Spike Squad student section to wrap around the southwest corner. There will also be new restrooms in the basement of Huff by mid-October.
Six ceiling fans have also been installed to improve the fan experience at Huff. However, the wooden seats in the upper deck from 1925 when Huff opened remain in place until the next renovation phase.
Huff's getting a makeover this summer! pic.twitter.com/vfWilqPTV5— Illinois Volleyball (@IlliniVBall) June 25, 2014
Huff is also home to the men's and women's gymnastics and the wrestling program.