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Assembly Hall to carry Simon Skjodt name after major renovation

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Indiana University's Assembly Hall will be renamed Simon Skjodt Assembly Hall after the school uses a $40 million gift from IU graduate and Indianapolis philanthropist Cindy Simon Skjodt to renovate the facility, IU announced Thursday afternoon.

The donation, the largest ever given to the IU Athletics Department, will fund major improvements to the 42-year-old Assembly Hall, which plays host to the university’s basketball games.

The gift also will launch the school's ambitious $150 million "Catching Excellence: The Campaign for Indiana University Athletics" capital campaign.

Skjodt (pronounced Scott) is the daughter of late shopping mall magnate Melvin Simon. Her recent gifts include $2 million to the Herron School of Art and Design’s Art Therapy Program and $1.5 million to the Indiana University Lilly Family School of Philanthropy.

Skjodt, who was named a 2013 Woman of Influence by IBJ in October, will make the donation through the Samerian Foundation, which she founded and leads.

IU said the renovation will "maintain the character and experience of the venue while enhancing the facility's functionality so as to preserve the greatest home court advantage in college basketball."

The renaming is expected to take place after improvements are completed, as early as 2016. IU said the project will not interfere with basketball, commencement or other major activities that typically take place in the building.

The project will preserve the current seat configuration and seating capacity, add bathrooms and new video scoreboard. The south lobby will be restructured with a new entryway and "dramatic" atrium, IU said. Existing bathrooms and concession stands will be remodeled.

Box seat-style seating will be added above the south baseline bleachers to generate more revenue. Escalators will replace ramps in the south lobby.

The project also will update the facility's HVAC and other infrastructure systems. A technology center will be added to improve video-production and game-day broadcasts.

In August, IU Athletic Director Fred Glass told IBJ the 17,472-seat facility would be renovated—not replaced—adding that replacement would require “the mother of all capital campaigns.”

Thursday’s announcement would mark a reversal of what IU trustees said before Glass was hired in late 2008—that renovation was impractical.

Skjodt graduated from Indiana University in 1980. She also holds a masters degree from Butler University.

The Samerian Foundation is named for the Skjodt's three adult children, Samantha, Erik and Ian. Samantha and Erik are 2012 Indiana University graduates and Ian is an IU freshman. Skjodt is married to Paul Skjodt, a former professional hockey player who owns the Indiana Ice.

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  • It's a money maker
    Businesses and groups/organizations pay rent to use these suites/boxes. They are huge revenue generators. It's mostly about the money. And, no doubt, it will bring in more concession revenue. But, no more leg room for you and me.
  • Worthless
    I understand the importance of sports in raising money for universities, but just imagine if this kind of focus was placed on the actual reason kids go to college: EDUCATION. Athletic directors get so much more money than the people who are supposed to be educating the next generation's leaders. It's pathetic.
  • Just a Thought!
    Did any of you unappreciative complainers ever think that the University was the one that requested the Simon Skojdt name be attached for the generosity, not Simon Skojdt. Regardless, it is more than warrented given the donation amount. Assembly Hall, as it presently sits, does have several issues, but if this could fix or improve them, don't you think it is worth it. We get the best of both worlds; to keep Assembly Hall and have it renovated to be more modern in its amenities.
  • Hey Fred!
    Now that everything is for sale in the athletic department, how much for the naming rights to your "world's largest flag pole" at Memorial Stadium? I will start the bidding at $250!
  • Tosser
    With all the money she's throwing around lately maybe she can pitch in $10 mill a year to subsidize daddy's basketball team rather than having taxpayers do it.
  • I love it....
    I love it when people give generous donations and don't expect anything in return. Oh wait, that doesn't apply here - they're renaming the building because of the donation.....
  • Misguided
    I think the IU trustees had it right in 2008. Renovating AH is totally impractical. Time to tear her down and build a proper basketball arena. There's a reason very few other arenas have the same design as AH. It stinks. Time to end this bad idea, not pour more money into it.
  • Some Jealous Posters
    I for one want to thank the Simin-Skjodts for their generous gift. Other Schools rely on Commercial donor and naming rights (Ohio State), IU was blessed to have fans and alumni wealthy enough to make such a substantial donation. How they ended up with the dollars is of no concern to any of us. What they are doing, from the Cancer Center to Indiana University to so many other charitable gifts, is what we should recognize and admire.
  • Really
    Why not name it after the guy that actually made the money - Simon. Perhaps put in parenthesis how to pronounce the new name.
  • Naming Rights
    So let me get this right, Forest Lucas Paid $122 Million for the naming rights of the "Lucus Oil Stadium" for 20 years and Cindy Simon Skjodt paid (Um I mean donated so she could get a tax deduction) $40 for lifetime naming rights. Sounds like she got a bargain (both for tax deduction and advertisement) Huh, what a deal!
  • Haves and have nots
    I'm never a fan of selling naming rights, but in this case I'm irritated that a lot of the money is not just going for the betterment of every fan, but a bulk is going to create luxury suites for a few of the well off. So pissing off a lot of alumni (myself included), so a handful can eat filet after riding their new escalator to their new suite. But I shouldn't expect anything less from Glass.
    • YUK!
      Boy that name really has a ring to it...and talk about throwing good money after bad. Glad I'm moving to FL.
    • Ugh
      This just feels greasy.
    • What the Hell?
      When I was a student at IU there were a lot of people pushing and asking about Assembly Hall being renamed in honor of Coach Knight. The explanation was always given that IU has a very particular set of guidelines and that someone has to be dead for so long before a building can be named after them. I guess all of that can be forgone and the man that made the arena can be forgotten when money is involved. What the Hell?
    • Please...
      Is nothing sacred? I'm okay with the renovation, but "luxury seating" in Assembly Hall?? Please...it's a basketball arena! This so totally reeks of McRobbie. Just build a new one with luxury suites where you can entertain and ignore the game.
    • Pronunciation would be helpful
      It would help if you added a guide for pronouncing the unusual name Skojdt. I have seen that it is to be pronounced "Scott" but do not know that for certain.

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