BLOOMINGTON-NORMAL, Ill. (WMBD) — High school football season is over, but IHSA officials are already prepping for next year’s state title games. Next week, the board will select the host site for the next season into 2027.
And Bloomington-Normal is one of four cities with a bid to host the best high school football teams in Illinois.
Bloomington-Normal is no stranger to state titles–girls volleyball, girls basketball, girls wrestling, and team wrestling, all IHSA sports currently playing title games in the Twin Cities. But, now after two decades, the state championship football games could be played at Hancock Stadium.
Illinois State University and Visit BN submitted a proposal that would bring the IHSA football state finals to Bloomington-Normal for the first time since 1999.
“For the last 10 years, it has rotated between University of Illinois and Northern Illinois in Dekalb,” said IHSA executive director, Craig Anderson.
Three other schools– U of I in Champaign, Northern Illinois University in DeKalb, and Southern Illinois University in Carbondale all vying to edge out Bloomington-Normal as the host site.
“They’re working to try and put their best foot forward in terms of what they can offer, but also trying to be fair to the association in terms of the finances,” Anderson said.
Unlike the last 10 years, Anderson said the association wants the title games for football to take place in one city.
“Much like we have for all of our state final sites that we host,” Anderson said.
Thousands of fans come across the state to see their school in the big game over Thanksgiving weekend.
“It fills up hotel rooms with spectators and teams when traditionally that weekend there weren’t as many hotel rooms being used,” Anderson said.
ISU athletics declined an interview but sent WMBD a statement from athletic director, Kyle Brennan:
“We are excited to be a part of the community’s bid to bring the IHSA Football State Finals back to Bloomington-Normal,” ISU Director of Athletics Kyle Brennan said. “Illinois State University and Illinois State Athletics have long valued their great partnership with the IHSA, and take pride in our duties hosting the girls volleyball and basketball tournaments each year at CEFCU Arena. We look forward to hearing from the IHSA about the results of the bid process and are confident that our staff and community would welcome all the student-athletes, coaches, families, and spectators warmly and provide them a great experience if the football championships return.”
Bid results are expected to be announced as soon as next week. Anderson said the board votes for the selection site on Tuesday, Dec 7th.