State Football Back to Bloomington-Normal

Darren Kinnard

BLOOMINGTON — The IHSA State Football Championship games will be headed back to Hancock Stadium on the campus of Illinois State University. The IHSA Board of Directors approved the new hosting contract, which will run from 2023-2027 with ISU and the Bloomington-Normal Convention & Visitors Bureau.

Hancock Stadium was the site of the first Football State Championships back in 1974. It remained host for some or all of the title games until 1998. Memorial Stadium at the University of Illinois in Champaign hosted from 1999-2012, with the site rotating every other year between Champaign and Northern Illinois’ Huskie Stadium in DeKalb from 2013-2022 due to conflicts with Illinois’ Big Ten schedule the weekend after Thanksgiving.

“We appreciate all of the hosting bids that we received for the IHSA Football State Finals,” said IHSA Executive Director Craig Anderson. “Seeing the passion that these university communities have for hosting the State Finals and the amazing stadiums that each campus offers didn’t make for an easy decision. Ultimately, the first-class facilities, amazing support from Illinois State University and the Bloomington-Normal communities, and the central location proved to be the biggest factors in returning to ISU for the next five years.”

The Board chose the ISU/Bloomington-Normal bid over bids from NIU/DeKalb, SIU/Carbondale, and Illinois/Champaign-Urbana. The NIU and SIU bids were both for hosting all five years. The University of Illinois bid was for 2024, 2026, 2028.

“We have a tremendous relationship with Champaign-Urbana and look forward to returning there in a few short months for State Wrestling and Boys Basketball,” said Anderson. “Northern Illinois did an exemplary job, stepping up to host beginning in 2013 when the Big Ten schedule necessitated a hosting change in the midst of the contract with the University of Illinois. Southern Illinois University’s facility stacks up with any other in the state as well and the area is well-known for having a deeply-rooted high school sports fanbase. The IHSA deeply values its relationships with all of these institutions and their communities.”

Hancock Stadium underwent a 23-million dollar renovation in 2013, that included a new press box, a transformation of the east side of the stadium, the addition of chairback seats, and other upgrades. Back in April, ISU broke ground on a new indoor football practice facility adjacent to Hancock Stadium that will be completed by the time the 2023 IHSA Finals are hosted there November 24-25, 2023.