IU President Michael McRobbie announced the largest donation in the history of IU Athletics Thursday, accepting a $40 million donation from Cynthia "Cindy" Simon Skjodt to renovate Assembly Hall.
The gift is the fourth-largest in IU history and will kick off a $150 million capital campaign for the athletic department. IU Vice President and Director of Athletics Fred Glass described Simon Skjodt's donation as "less of a spark and more of a blowtorch" to the new campaign.
The renovations to 42-year-old Assembly Hall are expected to be completed by 2016 and will extend a string of updated facilities for the Hoosiers, including Cook Hall, Memorial Stadium's north end zone project, and recently-completed baseball and softball stadiums.
Planned improvements "will focus on improving amenities to enhance the fan experience while preserving the current seat configuration and seating capacity," according to an IU Athletics press release. Along with a redesigned atrium, escalators to balcony-level seating, and a state-of-the-art video scoreboard will come updates to the arena's infrastructure.
"The overall goal is to preserve the best home court advantage in college basketball," Glass said. "This isn't a patch job. I need to be a part of preserving this incredible venue for another generation. I seriously want this building to be here for another 42 years."
A change in the building's name accompanies Simon Skjodt's donation - the arena will officially be renamed to Simon Skjodt Assembly Hall.
"I think this is a reasonable way to provide for additional resources for the athletic department, and it's not going all the way to a commercial name," Glass said. "In my view, (the name) strikes the right balance."
Simon Skjodt is the daughter of Melvin "Mel" Simon, the late owner of the NBA's Indiana Pacers.
She is an IU alumna with a history of donations to IU - a $1.5 million gift to IU's Lilly Family School of Philanthropy.
"This is a very important moment as I continue (her father's) legacy," Simon Skjodt said. "I strongly believe that if you love this university, you should give back to this university.
"It's an honor and a dream come true for me."