State Farm Center officially in the running for IHSA tournament

CHAMPAIGN—The bid is in to bring the IHSA boys basketball tournament back to Champaign-Urbana.

“It belongs here,” said Jayne DeLuce, president of Visit Champaign County. “Legends play here and we want to keep up that tradition, I think it's a community pride, and it's also an economic boom for the community.”

An economic boom estimated at $7.5 million if the State Farm Center is chosen to host the tourney from 2016 through 2020.

“We have to say how do you put the sizzle back in high school basketball,” said DeLuce. “And I think we've got some creative ways that we're not going to share right now because we want to keep the bid competitive.”

The Peoria Civic Center, which has been the home of the event since 1996, is the only other competitor DeLuce knows of so far. But the president of Visit Champaign County says there are some obvious advantages to having it back in its original home, one of them being a newly renovated arena.

“It is a world-class facility,” said DeLuce. “There is no other facility in the state of Illinois that will come close to that.”

Local hotels have also pledged to keep their costs down and get rid of minimum stay requirements during the weekends of the tournament—an issue some say is what caused it to move out in the first place.

“The hotels that came on board, and our official hotel partners have signed a letter of intent indicating that they will work with us on comparable rates,” said DeLuce.

Community support is also key. Champaign, Urbana, Savoy, and Rantoul have all promised thousands of dollars in payments to the IHSA if it selects the State Farm Center.

“This is a basketball community,” said DeLuce. “People here love their basketball.”

Bids will be accepted through January 1st. A decision is expected by the end of March.

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