Official release on Simon-Skjodt Assembly Hall renovations

The official release from IU athletics follows.

Historic $40 Million Gift Will Renovate Indiana University’s Assembly Hall and Launch Unprecedented Capital Campaign for IU Athletics

In recognition of the largest gift in the history of IU Athletics, Assembly Hall to be renamed the Simon Skjodt Assembly Hall 

December 19, 2013

BLOOMINGTON, Ind. – Indiana University President Michael A. McRobbie today announced that IU Athletics has received a $40 million gift  the largest in its history  from IU alumna Cindy Simon Skjodt to provide much needed renovations to Assembly Hall and launch IU Athletics’ ambitious and unprecedented $150 million “Catching Excellence: The Campaign for Indiana University Athletics” capital campaign. President McRobbie also announced that in honor of the landmark gift made by Catching Excellence co-chair Cindy Simon Skjodt and her philanthropic organization, the Samerian Foundation, IU will rename Assembly Hall the Simon Skjodt Assembly Hall.

 

“The Simon Family name has long been synonymous with transformative philanthropy, and this extraordinary gift from Cindy Simon Skjodt and her family will allow IU to preserve and improve one of the great venues in college athletics for the next generation of Hoosier basketball fans,” McRobbie said. “We are deeply indebted to Cindy Simon Skjodt and the entire Simon family for their deep and continued support across the full spectrum of Indiana University’s mission.”

 

Cindy Simon Skjodt is a well-known philanthropist and passionate community leader. Cindy and the entire Simon family have been particularly generous to Indiana University, with a $50 million gift to the Indiana University Cancer Center in Indianapolis and the creation of Simon Hall on the Bloomington campus as a center for multidisciplinary science. Cindy recently endowed the Melvin Simon Chair in Philanthropy at the IU Lilly Family School of Philanthropy in honor of her late father. Other recent philanthropic gifts by Simon Skjodt have included a $2 million gift to IU Health Methodist Hospital for a new institute for Cognitive Behavioral Therapy and a Center for Professional Enrichment and a $2 million gift to endow a chair in the Herron School of Art and Design’s Art Therapy Program. Simon Skjodt has also helped to fund overseas study scholarships through the IU College of Arts and Sciences, committed funding to help create the IU Health Riley Hospital for Children Simon Family Tower, and supported along with her siblings the Bess Meshulam Simon Music Library and Recital Center on the Bloomington campus in honor of her late mother.

 

“I grew up going to Indiana University games and have great memories of watching basketball games with my father,” said Cindy Simon Skjodt. “The atmosphere in Assembly Hall is truly unmatched anywhere in college basketball.”

 

“Everyone in our family has enjoyed incredible experiences with Indiana University,” added Simon Skjodt. “We feel fortunate for our IU relationships and it is rewarding to give back. We hope others in Hoosier Nation who are able to do so will also give back to help make the Catching Excellence campaign a success.”

 

“This tremendous gift is another example of the extraordinary and ongoing dedication of Cindy and her family to the continued success of all aspects of Indiana University,” said IU Foundation President and CEO Dan Smith. “Their willingness to breathe new life into this important venue is inspiring and their efforts to lead by example with engagement and service are truly exceptional.”

 

“We are honored and thrilled that Cindy and her family are jump starting the much needed Athletics capital campaign with this historically generous gift,” said IU Vice President and Director for Intercollegiate Athletics Fred Glass.  “Not unlike the way her father and uncle saved the Pacers for Indiana by buying the team in 1983, this gift will make it possible in essence to save Assembly Hall and preserve the best home court advantage in college basketball. We are all very grateful to Cindy Simon Skjodt.”

 

Funds from the gift will be used for much needed renovations and improvements to the 42-year-old facility. The plan is to 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 will take affect upon the completion of the renovations and improvements, which is currently anticipated to occur as early as 2016. The multi-year project will not interfere with basketball, commencement or other major activities that take place in the building.

 

Refurbishments of Assembly Hall will focus on improving amenities to enhance the fan experience while preserving the current seat configuration and seating capacity. The south lobby will be restructured with a new entryway and dramatic atrium. Escalators will replace ramps in the south lobby. Throughout the arena, new branding and graphics will be updated to celebrate the tradition and success of IU basketball.

 

Existing bathrooms and concession stands will be remodeled and new bathrooms will be added. A large state-of-the-art video scoreboard will replace the current bifurcated scoreboard, improving fan experience for all fans in Assembly Hall, especially those sitting in the balcony. Box seat-style seating will be added above the south baseline bleachers and will generate revenue to pay for this seating and to help fund ongoing upkeep of Assembly Hall.

 

Behind the scenes, Assembly Hall’s HVAC and other infrastructure systems will be updated and a state-of-the-art broadcast technology center will be added to enhance IU Athletics video production and game day broadcasts.

 

Assembly Hall has been home to IU basketball since 1971, and since then has hosted more than twelve million fans. Due to its unique, large-capacity design with the majority of its 17,472 seats on either side of the court, Assembly Hall – with the nation’s largest student section (7,800) – is regarded as one of the loudest, and most intimidating venues in college basketball. A 2012 poll of Big Ten basketball players judged Assembly Hall to be the toughest home arena in the league. Assembly Hall has been home to three men’s basketball national championship teams and the Hoosiers have a 504-98 record in the 42 seasons at the arena.

 

“Without question Assembly Hall is vital to the future of our program,” said Men’s Basketball Head Coach Tom Crean.  “This incredible gift will ensure our players, coaches and fans are able to create many more memorable moments in a building filled with tradition and excellence.”

 

“All over the country, people know what an intimidating environment Assembly Hall can be. It’s one of our greatest assets and we are excited to see improvements made to our legendary facility that will dramatically improve the Hoosier fan experience.”

 

“We are incredibly grateful to Cindy Simon Skjodt and her family for their generosity in funding Assembly Hall’s renovations and kicking off the Catching Excellence campaign with this significant gift,” added Crean. “The Simon Skjodt family is made up of diehard Hoosier fans and Hoosier Nation will be proud to have the Simon Skjodt name grace Assembly Hall.”

 

“From the first moment our student-athletes walk into Assembly Hall, they understand how important this building is to our program, the university and the state of Indiana,” said Women’s Basketball Head Coach Curt Miller.

 

“It’s such an incredible honor to be the recipients of this significant gift from a woman who is both a generous IU alumna and devoted community leader,” added Miller. “We cannot thank Cindy enough.  Beyond her extraordinary generosity, Cindy serves as an example and inspiration to young women, including the members of my team, through her leadership, passion and philanthropy.

 

The goal of the IU Athletics Catching Excellence campaign is to raise $150 million in private support for new and improved athletic facilities, endowments, and on-going annual support of student-athlete scholarships. Additional details of the Catching Excellence campaign will be announced in the coming weeks, including its other capital projects; honorary co-chairs; and steering committee members.

 

The Catching Excellence campaign name is derived from a Vince Lombardi quote: “Perfection is not attainable; but if we chase perfection we can catch excellence.”

 

Cindy Simon 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 Skjodt, who share the Simon enthusiasm and passion for IU’s Bloomington campus. Samantha and Erik are 2012 Indiana University graduates. Ian is currently a freshman at Indiana University. Cindy is married to husband Paul, a former professional hockey player who owns the Indiana Ice of the USHL.

 

In addition to founding and leading the Samerian Foundation, Simon Skjodt’s civic activities include her Board of Director position with the Indiana Sports Corporation and Coalition for Homelessness Prevention, the Indiana Pacers Foundation, Central Indiana Community Foundation, Indiana University Foundation, Indianapolis Foundation, and Methodist Health Foundation.

 

To learn more about the Catching Excellence campaign or gift and naming opportunities, please contact the IU Varsity Club at 812-855-0866 or varsity@indiana.edu.

 

28 comments

  1. It is truly a remarkably generous gift! However, IU should have reserved the right to add the name “Coach Robert M. Knight” to “Simon Skjodt Assembly Hall” at such time as the Board of Trustees votes for same. Not to do this is a real travesty. It makes IU a second tier, historically speaking, basketball program to KY: Rupp Arena; UNC: Dean Smith Hall (The Dean Dome), and Duke when Coach K retires (and probably others I simply am ignorant of). Money is great but it did not build the wonderful Indiana Basketball History! “It’s Indiana” is a slogan that is not for sale!

  2. Couldn’t agree more. There could have easily been a plaque inside the entrance to acknowledge the remarkable gift.

    It’s the thousands of passionate fans investing their hearts for cream and crimson in every price of every ticket for four decades that made Assembly Hall a storied basketball arena. Almost three decades without a banner and the fans still fill the place to the rafters. It’s an “assembly” of the best fans in the land. Leave the name alone to honor those that sill love sports for all the small rewards a cheer and smile for a youngster.

  3. I’m sure the outcome of this renovation will be excellent, but I’m surprised that with such a large gift, McRobbie, Glass and IU’s Board of Trustees did not decide to use Cindy’s wonderful gift as a significant down payment toward the cost to build a new, larger basketball stadium. Was it fear of the cost and potential debt, nostalgia for Assembly Hall, or other priorities on campus that influenced this decision?

    I mean, given the popularity of IU basketball throughout the state, with winning teams, IU could easily sell out a 20,000 seat stadium or larger for every game. I’m not complaining or criticizing the decision, I’m just surprised and curious, especially when just a couple of years ago Glass referred to a long term facilities plan that included replacing Assembly Hall some day. Then again, maybe Cindy determined how her family’s gift would be spent.

    Thank you, Cindy. Good for you and good for IU!

  4. For comparison Illinois received $60 million for a 30 year deal to rename their Assembly Hall to State Farm Center, Indiana is receiving $40 for an apparently unlimited amount of time but got to keep an arena least partly named Assembly Hall.

  5. I understand the modern realities of funding, naming and the big business that is collegiate sports.

    But this woman would become one of the most endearing names if during the dedication ceremony, she lifted up the cloth the new sign with coach knight’s name in her place. It would be amazing.

    However, I totally realize you don’t drop $40 mill for a plaque in the lobby.

  6. Po,

    I think eventually there will be a new stadium at the north end of campus. With the addition of brand new Cook Hall, $200 mil just is too steep right now. I assume the new renovations will include luxury boxes and new premium seating. This will increase the gate substantially for the next decade or so. The athletic department will be in a much better positron to financially support such a venture in the future.

  7. Why would the University have any interest in naming anything Knight? He has shown no interest in anything IU.
    Appears to be a lot of hate remaining. Ohio State did their thing with him. So be it.

    UCLA/Duke game – Alford would be interested in home/home series with IU. That could work.

  8. I doubt that after spending $40,000,000 to renovate Assembly Hall over the next two years, IU is going to build a new basketball stadium in the next decade, or even the next 20 years. Assembly Hall is going to be IU’s basketball home for at least the next 25 years, and perhaps much longer. And that’s fine with me. It’s a great place to watch a college basketball game and there is a lot of history in that building.

    Sorry, but I doubt IU will ever name the building after Bob Knight. That ship has sailed. And the sooner IU wins another NCAA Championship, the faster IU fans’ memory of Knight will diminish. I like, admire and respect Bob Knight. I think he was the best college BB coach ever. I treasure the memory of his teams while I was a student at IU. I was very troubled by the way his tenure at IU came to an end. But as more time passes with him holding a grudge, his legend continues to diminish. No man is bigger than the University, no matter how successful he was. IU was an elite BB program before Knight came to Bloomington, and it will be an elite program again.

  9. Why not a plaque in the lobby? Billions were dropped in her inheritance lap for nothing other than winning a birth certificate lottery.

    Skyboxes for the privileged. The world of ‘haves’ finally getting into the last sacred arenas and stadiums to flaunt a segregated distinction to avoid your sweaty obnoxious breath…High in the clouds they look down upon the eternally in debt students and the ‘have nots.’

    There was once a day the disparities and differences of economic circumstances and wealth needn’t be made so glaringly obvious and important in petty lines of distinction when gathering to watch our beloved favorite teams.

    It’s a great hunk of cash..But where it leads is the gated communities of privilege now finding more square footage at stadiums where a humble cheer was once appreciated.

    Skybox to pine box. At the end of the day, all will be humbled to the earth.

  10. Soooo… As I started reading your comment Harvard I found myself growing once again tense… I thought for sure I was going to disagree… I found myself thinking “we just received the 4th largest donation in the history of college athletics… It can do nothing but good for the future of the programS.”…

    And then I kept reading… By the time I got to the 5th paragraph I had a completely different understanding…

    I VERY MUCH APPRECIATE THE SENTIMENT. Yes… Sorry all caps… But I thought that was an wonderful statement that many Native Hoosiers deserved.

    Although I didn’t experience the humble cheer of an Indiana HS gym, I believe it is quite similar to that of a Maine HS gym… We are FAR & AWAY a high school sports driven, community driven, fan-base… We don’t have big time college programs (other than UMO Hockey… But what is that really)… We follow Boston-area teams…

    This state was built, much like Indiana, on small agricultural communities and the family names that distinguished them…

    And then, all of a sudden, I remembered something else…

    We have a benefactor… A man named Harold Alfond… Who’s last name appears on almost every campus – public or private – in the state… Without his (elitist?) money invested in our colleges and universities we simply wouldn’t be the same…

    But not only that, he has a scholarship fund that benefits EVERY child born in Maine… My son, upon his birth, was given a $500 (tax-sheltered) account. We simply had to claim the money within a year of his birth… We receive free consultation on the account… I can now give the number out to relatives so they can contribute throughout my sons life… And when he turns 18 he (and every other native Mainer) will have an education account ready to pave their way to a better future.

    Soooo… Upon TOTAL reflection… Please consider that monetary donations shouldn’t just be dismissed as an elitist propaganda technique… So what if she scratched life’s winning lottery ticket… She chose to give the money to IU… She could have spent it on Michael Jordan’s Chicagoland estate… She could have banked it for generations of Skjodts to come… But instead she chose to give it to something she presumable loves… Just like us… In order to provide a better future for both Hoosiers and Hoosier fans.

    Please don’t jump into the deep end unnecessarily Harve…

  11. Yeah, but the tax implications can’t hurt. She could double the donation and don’t think it would have the long-term impact of Mr Harold Alfond.

  12. Unreal…

    Lady gives $40 million bucks to IU.

    People complain.

    I’m sure if any of you want to pony up $41 million, Glass will let you name it whatever you want. Who’s going to step up? The legacy of Hoosier basketball is at stake here, gents!

  13. Chrome Dome,

    Like you, I find the attitude of many folks towards Cindy’s $40 million gift to be “unreal.” How ungrateful! Now I hope our fellow bloggers don’t misunderstand me. I’m aware most charitable giving from the wealthy (i.e. about 2w/3rds of it) doesn’t go towards helping the poor and powerless, but to building facilities like concert halls, art museums, theaters, stadiums, etc. Such facilities tend to help mostly the rich. Many also may help us too. But for that, they receive tax breaks. It’s the way the system currently works as many of you know.

    But,if we’re so opposed to that, how many of us are willing to put ourselves on the line,–not just bitch and complain–into the political sphere, to address the real issue in America, namely: the inequality of wealth distribution? How many of us are willing to work hard to reshape the policies and structures which have created such wealth for the rich while contributing to the greatest inequity in our society since the Great Depression? Until we’re willing to do that,it’s mere hypocrisy on our part to dish Cindy for her gift to IU.

    At least with Cindy, and the Simons, we still have some rich who recognize “noblesse oblige.” That’s no longer true of most rich–like the Koch Brothers, etc.–and other rich who live in the South primarily. These rich have an insatiable appetite to acquire more and more,to hoard it for self, as they continue to work in the halls of Congress to take monies away from the middle class, workers, the poor and powerless in our society (e.g. the sequester).

    Besides, I think Cindy and IU have shown reasonable judgement with this gift, that is if you’re going to spend such monies on athletics and athletic facilities. At least Cindy and IU value the environment. They are avoiding blowing up a building which can be retooled without reconstructing a new facility. In the process, they save $160 million.

    So now, Cindy can choose to use what’s been saved to support policies and structures in Congress which will help the real job creators in America: the middle class, workers, the poor and powerless. If so, she can now play a major role in recreating that period of prosperity in America–1947 to approximately 1997–when we all had enough, at every economic level, for every American to pursue life, liberty and happiness. And the rich could too. If she does, there still remains enough for you and me to watch basketball comfortably in a newly rehabilitated building. And, before and after the game, we can work for fairness and justice to ensure all Americans have enough.

  14. Correction to my prior email. The period of the greatest prosperity in America was from about 1947 to 1977, not 1997.

  15. I think that you missed my point. Coach Knight was the “Chairman” of the “Basketball Department” at IU for 30 years, a period during which that department was world renown for excellence! That is what world class universities strive for. He achieved it FOR Indiana University. So, just like the Natatorium was named for Doc Counsilman and Hobie Billingsly, just like buildings in the School of Music are named for Dean Webb, you name Assembly Hall for Coach Knight. I don’t care if Coach Knight ever comes to Bloomington. We honor his accomplishments for Indiana University (undeniable), not the troubled man, a complex of good and bad (like most of us). Name the building for his work, send him an invitation, then forget the man and celebrate the program that he built and led. Don’t ask his permission, who cares what he thinks or does with the opportunity (only his family does as Pat Knight so simply stated)?

  16. Po, Even though you and are I eyeball to eyeball over many IU football topics, your projection in the 1st paragraph of post #9 about the venue for the future of IU BB parallels mine. Cook Hall added life to AH and now much more is added with this planned renovation. I believe it is most appropriate for sure at this time as building a new facility would starve all 24 sports for 3-5 years. That is unacceptable. I must admit in the back of my mind there has always been a vision of a new, modern but not too techie, 24k+ seat RMK Hoosier Field House. I do not know about you but that most likely will not happen in my lifetime. But like AD Glass has expressed I am satisfied knowing AH is an icon in collegiate BB. I must regrettably agree with your sentiments in paragraph 2 and for the reasons you offered + more.

  17. Take it easy Walt. It is perfectly acceptable for people to discuss their thoughts about a major change to one of not just Indiana’s, but college basketball’s most iconic and treasured buildings. There’s no reason to jump up and start an Occupy Assembly Hall movement about income redistribution because a few folks think it could have had a cooler name.

  18. Hard to think of a basketball venue in more need of an update than Assembly, so this is great to see. The massive expanses of bare concrete that rise up behind each hoop are terribly ugly and diminish the intimacy of the game experience by closing off the opposing sides from each other. Feels more like a place to wait out a nuclear holocaust than to watch a basketball game.

    Another important, but probably impossible upgrade would be to allow draft beer to be served at the games. Until that happens, the best spot to view a Hoosiers game, in my mind, will always be on a bar stool at Nick’s.

  19. The Prez of IU spent the Big Ten network money on an academic building the global school of international pancakes I think – that money plus this money would have been a great start on a new BK Hall of Hoops for IU!
    GO IU – plus the money spent on the new roof a few years ago – new arena could have been used to Add a great sport now in Big Ten – HOCKEY!

  20. I’m just glad Don Fischer will probably be retired before it’s complete. Can’t imagine ‘Fish’ not being out with crowd rather than enclosed in a glass case for viewing.

    And to think Crean, the Harbaughs, the Mellencamp sons, will all have their skybox seats while snubbing their noses at the little people…?

    I’m just thankful I experienced college basketball before it was turned into individualistic show palaces for prima donnas more concerned with draft status than banners. The hype machines took the games over. Now we get are fallout shelter that all shared in relatively equally turned into the Titanic. Put the rich and privileged on full display in the glass where they’ll be served caviar and beef wellington. They’ll discretely have the butter from the popcorn dripping off their chin actually be found to be real butter.

    You are now the people cheering that no lifeboats have been ordered because the rich needed more deck space to get the best view of the ocean.

    Give me the “nuclear holocaust” shelter with my fellow hysterical and hospitable Hoosier brothers that made me feel welcome and as one. With their wealth they put beautiful face lifts and makeup on everything while insisting to make the rest, the peasants, and the dumb fanatics that brainless cheer at anything, a separated class that they can financially demean with any dollar spit in one direction.

    They do nothing for the real lifeblood of college sports. And the more they take the “community” out of sports, the more they’ll kill it to a degree an iceberg gashing a hole down the side it’s heart.

  21. Great news. As storied as Assembly Hall is, this reno is long overdue. The tile in the lobbies has to be original and anyone who pays for a seat in the upper decks does so for the a’tmosphere…’cause you can’t see much of the game. All IU fans should be thankful Mrs. Simon-Skjodt made such a large donation, thereby accelerating the reno plan. Go Hoosiers.

  22. Size matters…Just ask Brad Stevens and two back-to-back trips to a Final Four.

    With no banner in almost thirty years…? Seems sorta weird to be in a shiny remodeled bubble with skyboxes for the privileged while staring up at banners from the days Led Zeppelin was first played in dorm rooms across the Bloomington campus.

    Could it be a colony of invaders from another galaxy finally coming in spaceship to return our banners? Maybe the skybox section is the control deck and Don Fischer is an alien that will live for 300 years…? In 2317 they’ll actually return the original Assembly with the crowd they captured not aged a day…? We will then claim our sixth banner while being led by an octopus-looking creature with eight arms and forty clapping hands(five hands on each arm)known as Moonbeam Crean of Zebtar.

  23. I have reservations about putting the name of the Simon-Sjkodt family in front of Assembly Hall and communicated such to the IU Varsity Club. I recommended that if a renaming were done it should be done in honor of Bob Knight who has done more for IU BB than a $40 mm donation will ever do. I was told that an “in honor” naming could only take place if a person was deceased for more than 5 years. I then questioned how An “in honor” naming could be done for Cindy Simon-Sjkodt since she is still alive? It was explained to me that an “in honor” naming could be done for the donations of such magnitude. I believe CSS has been very generous but think she should request her name be used on another facility on the IU sports complex or an inside portion of AH such as the press box, new skyboxes, or scoreboard. I put AH up there with Notre Dame Stadium, the Big House, and The Horseshoe. IU is steeped in tradition and think while we appreciate the donation to better IU we shouldn’t touch the name changing of Assembly Hall for monetary reasons.

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