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State Farm Center
drawing of the State Farm Center

The State Farm Center

We say State Farm Center, Texas Rangers communications coordinator Kate Munson says ... deadline.

“I decided to attend Illinois in the spring of 2005 as I cheered on the men’s basketball team,” says Munson, who landed the plum beat at The Daily Illini — men’s basketball — after proving herself while covering volleyball and softball in her younger years.

“It was such a thrill to be chosen for that beat in my junior year and have the privilege of covering the team for two years. I vividly remember furiously transcribing postgame audio in the media interview room downstairs after games, hoping like crazy that I could file an adequate story on deadline.

“Even though I’m on the public relations side of those postgame press conferences these days, I still sympathize with the reporters who are scrambling to change stories that have changed in the last at-bat and assembling the quotes from a manager who is late in coming in or a player who’s uncomfortable with the spotlight.”

State Farm Center is also where ...

— Elvis rocked, the Flyin’ Illini rolled and CBS funnyman Bill Geist went on his first date with his bride-to-be. It was Valentine’s Day 1968. “I took her to see Dr. Timothy Leary, the LSD guru, at the Assembly Hall,” Geist says. “If it was already State Farm Center, I doubt the insurance giant would have let him anywhere near the place. After seeing the good doctor, we went to the Red Lion, danced the gator to the Finchley Boys and were thrown out. Great date.”

— A wide-eyed Bill Hill was awestruck on his first of what would turn out to be many visits. He was 12 at the time and “awestruck.”

“It was an architectural wonder,” says the now-assistant managing editor for MLB.com. “I had never been inside such an impressive building, which was just two years old at the time.

“Eight years later, as a journalism student in the College of Communications, the Assembly Hall became my second home. For two years, I went there nearly every day as a student assistant in the sports information department. On many of those days, I would duck into the arena, and every time it would give me goosebumps. I saw so many wonderful events in that arena. The Illini basketball team wasn’t very good those two years — anyone remember Gene Bartow, who was replaced by ‘Lou Who?’ — but I loved being there.”