The basketball tournament that has called Peoria its home for 24 years is thinking about making some changes.
The IHSA’s contract with hosting its March Madness Tournament in Peoria ends in 2020. The city has bid for and won hosting rights for the tournament several times before, and it brings in huge revenue to the River City.
But there’s another change the IHSA is considering making, possibly condensing the tournament from 2 weekends to 1.
“Currently we conduct our basketball championships, our state finals, over four consecutive weekends. At the request of the board we put together a new model that would conduct those finals over two weekends. One weekend devoted to the girls tournament, the other weekend devoted to the boys,” said IHSA’s Kurt Gibson.
Schools, coaches, and fans tells the IHSA that scheduling state championship games during the NCAA’s March Madness Tournament could be impacting attendance.
“There’s a feeling that we’re losing some attendance because folks are leaning towards attending those games or watching those games on TV,” said Gibson.
To combat the decrease in attendance, the ISHA is considering cutting down to 2 weekends. 1 for girls, and 1 for boys.
“We think there’s some benefits for the students, the schools, and certainly the fans who will get to see in one weekend all the top basketball teams players and teams in our state,” said Gibson.
Local leaders believe Peoria is the perfect city for the tournament, and hope the city can secure the hosting contract again in 2021.
“Peoria is a great place to host the event. We want to make sure, as a community we don’t get complacent on having it,” said Peoria Area of Commerce President Jeff Griffin.
“We have over 2,000 volunteers that work March Madness experience every year. So it’s a big community impact and the community really embraces the Illinois High School Association events,” said Enjoy Peoria CEO Don Welch.
One local business would like the boys tournament in Peoria to remain at the same time and place.
“I would love to see it stay to the two weekends, it’s one of our favorite months. March, we love it. It’s go-go-go-go-go right after March madness,” said Hoops bartender Jill Knaub.
At the beginning of summer 2019, IHSA will put together a request for proposal, and then communities will have 6-8 months to put together proposals to host the tournaments. Then early 2020 IHSA will announce where the tournament will be held beginning in 2021.