IHSA boys state basketball headed back to Champaign

After a 25 year hiatus, the IHSA boys state basketball tournament will be back in Champaign starting in 2021. The IHSA Board of Directors voted Monday to accept the Champaign-Urbana/University of Illinois proposal and move the organization’s signature event from the Peoria Civic Center to the State Farm Center. It is a three-year commitment.

The IHSA held the event in Champaign from 1919-1995 before moving it to Peoria starting in 1996. This past season would’ve been the 25th in Peoria, but it was cancelled due to the pandemic.

“We see this as the passing of the torch from Peoria to Champaign-Urbana,” said IHSA Executive Director Craig Anderson. “It is bittersweet because there is incredible passion for high school basketball within these two communities, and both have done so much to elevate the state final experience as hosts. The State Farm Center is one of the best arenas in the country, and we are excited to crown state champions there once again. The timing simply felt right to make a change as the tournament format shifts in 2021.”

Starting in 2021, the state tournaments in all four classes will be played over three days on the same weekend. The change came as a way to try to combat dwindling attendance in recent years. T

The Champaign-Urbana bid includes includes interactive fan elements around the arena, city and campus marketing initiatives, a special in-arena area for parents with children, and 13 local hotels locking in three-year prices for fans below rack rate. The IHSA’s Wheelchair Basketball State Tournament and Special Olympics Illinois Unified Basketball Tournament will continue to be held in conjunction with the state tournament in Champaign-Urbana as well.

The State Farm Center had a 170-million dollar renovation that was completed in 2016. It has been the host of the IHSA state wrestling tournament since 1973.

“It’s difficult to express how grateful we are to the city of Peoria, the Civic Center, the surrounding communities, and the army of volunteers who have so vigorously supported the state tournament for a quarter of a century in Peoria,” Anderson said. “We understand there may be some initial disappointment, but ultimately, we hope they are as proud as we are for overseeing one of the most decorated eras in IHSA basketball with class, grace, and innovation. We love Peoria and look forward to the numerous IHSA events we will continue to conduct there.”

The IHSA Board of Directors also approved keeping the girls state basketball tournament at Redbird Arena in Normal for the next three years. The girls finals have been at Redbird Arena since 1992. Peoria had also put a bid in for the girls finals as well.