IHSA: Champaign gets boys’ state basketball tournament again, girls’ tournament stays in Normal

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BLOOMINGTON, Ill. (WMBD/WCIA) — The Illinois High School Association (IHSA) on Monday announced that the Boys Basketball State Finals will shift from Peoria to Champaign next year, and that the Girls Basketball State Finals will remain in Normal.

The Board of Directors voted to bring the state boys’ basketball tournament to Champaign’s State Farm Center for the first time since 1995. Champaign was the home to the event from 1919-1995.

The Peoria Civic Center also submitted a bid to continue hosting the tournament. Carver Arena in Peoria hosted the tournament for the last two-plus decades.

“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.”

A new format coincides with the new location; All four classes will be played on the same weekend, instead of splitting them up into two different weeks. Each class will continue to have four state-qualifying teams. The IHSA is also moving the schedule back one week, to avoid conflicts with the NCAA tournament.

“We are thrilled with today’s news that the Illinois high school boys basketball state finals will return home to the campus of the University of Illinois,” Illinois Director of Athletics Josh Whitman said. “We are grateful to the IHSA and its leadership for choosing State Farm Center and Champaign-Urbana to host the state finals.”

As mentioned, the girls’ tournament will remain in Normal, at Illinois State University’s Redbird Arena. The board voted to keep the tournament at ISU for the next three years.

“We are excited to continue to serve as the host for the IHSA Girls Basketball State Championships,” said ISU Director of Athletics Larry Lyons said. “Illinois State University and Illinois State Athletics have long valued their great partnership with the IHSA, and we take great pride in hosting this Championship. It’s an honor for us welcome the athletes, their families and spectators to campus and the Bloomington/Normal community each year and provide them with a first-class championship experience at Redbird Arena.”

The state final bid was a joint proposal by Illinois State University, Redbird Athletics, the Bloomington-Normal Area Convention & Visitors Bureau, and the Bloomington-Normal communities.

Redbird Arena has hosted the IHSA Girls Basketball State Finals since 1992, and has also hosted the IHSA Girls Volleyball State Finals since 1990.

The Peoria Civic Center will continue to house the IHSA Chess State Finals through 2023. It has been home to the finals since 2001.

Additionally, the IHSA Scholastic Bowl Tournament will move from the Peoria Civic Center to Heartland Community College in Normal for at least the next three years. Heartland is the current host of the IHSA Journalism State Finals as well, a role it began in 2019. The Scholastic Bowl was previously held at the Peoria Civic Center since 1997.

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