Urban city council approves annual contribution for IHSA basketball tournament bid

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URBANA--Urbana will add its name to the list of cities in Champaign County contributing thousands of dollars to win back the IHSA boy's basketball state finals tournament.

The city is pledging five thousand dollars a year for five years if the IHSA decides to bring back the tourney to the State Farm Center beginning in 2016.

Initially, Urbana mayor Laurel Prussing didn't think the city could contribute to the bid.

"We're really enthusiastic about them bringing it back," said Prussing. "But Urbana happens to be in a very tight financial situation right now."

But after Rantoul, Savoy, and Champaign pledged payments ranging from $5,000 to $50,000 for every year the State Farm Center hosts the high school boys basketball state finals, the Urbana city council unanimously approved an annual $5,000 contribution of its own to help win the bid during a special meeting Tuesday.

I'm hoping that we can get them to come home to Champaign-Urbana," said council member, Bill Brown. "And our little $5,000 might not be enough to get it here, but if we do, I think people need to go to the games."

Ticket sales for the tournament, which moved from Champaign to Peoria in 1996, have been on the decline in recent years. But Urbana officials hope bringing it back to its original home will boost business and tourism in town, because they plan to use that added revenue to pay for their financial commitment.     

"It would come from the hotel-motel tax because we assume if we have an increase in that, it will help cover this, just depending on how much of an increase there is." said Prussing. "We don't think there's going to be some huge dramatic increase, but there should be some."

The deadline to submit bids to the IHSA is January 1st. If the State Farm Center wins its bid, it will get the tournament from 2016 through 2020.
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