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Only Peoria and Champaign submit bids to host IHSA boys basketball state tournament

No Chicago-area venue submitted a proposal to the Illinois High School Association.

Winthrop players stand on the court during the national anthem before a game at the State Farm Center in Champaign-Urbana.
Winthrop players stand on the court during the national anthem before a game at the State Farm Center in Champaign-Urbana.
AP Photos

Champaign and Peoria are the only cities that sent proposals to the Illinois High School Association to host the boys basketball state finals.

The Civic Center in Peoria has hosted the tournament since 1996.

Champaign, which had the tournament for 77 years before Peoria, made a serious push to take it back five years ago but the State Farm Center was under construction and the community’s financial commitment did not meet Peoria’s.

The State Farm Center is now complete and Champaign is believed to have matched Peoria’s financial commitment to the IHSA, making it a major contender.

Many fans believe Redbird Arena in Bloomington-Normal would be an ideal venue and community for the boys tournament, but it only put in a bid for the girls tournament, which it currently hosts.

No Chicago-area venue put in a bid for either tournament. Five years ago the Sears Centre in Hoffman Estates went after the boys tournament.

Starting in 2021 the boys and girls semifinals and title games for all four classes will be held on one weekend. Currently the Class 1A and Class 2A tournament is one weekend and Class 3A and Class 4A is held the next weekend.

Five years ago a survey of 100 coaches revealed a clear preference for a return to Champaign.

“We are humbled and appreciative that these three communities continue to see tremendous value in hosting our prestigious state tournaments,” IHSA Executive Director Craig Anderson said. “The IHSA has longstanding ties to all three communities...We know that there are great people behind each, who would put on a first-class experience for student-athletes, coaches and fans alike.”

Attendance has dwindled at Peoria’s Carver Arena over the past several years and there is a groundswell of support in the basketball community to give Champaign another shot at hosting the tournament.

The IHSA will visit the sites over the next few months and make a decision at its board meeting on April 21.