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J. Thomas McNamara

     In less than three months, we will know if the Illinois High School Association will relocate its boys basketball tournaments from Peoria’s Carver Arena to State Farm Center, the old Assembly Hall, where it was played until 1996 when it moved to Carver. The IHSA has said it will announce April 21 who will host the boys Class 1A, 2A, 3A and 4A tournaments on the same weekend, starting in March 2021 with the specific dates being March 11-13, 2021; March 10-12, 2022 and March 9-11, 2023.

     Bids from the communities wanting to host the four class boys tournament on the same weekend were submitted Friday, Jan. 10. Champaign-Urbana turned in theirs a day early and is optimistic it will succeed this year in getting it back to where they believe it never should have left.

     After the IHSA Board of Directors meeting last Wednesday, the IHSA released what cities bid on what tournaments.

     –Peoria submitted bids for both the boys and girls tournaments.

     –Peoria also submitted a boys tournament bid only since it has hosted the tournaments since 1996.

     –Champaign-Urbana submitted a bid for the boys only tournaments.

     –Illinois State University submitted a bid for the girls only tournaments to continue at Redbird Arena.

     In the IHSA release, Executive Director Craig Anderson, “We are humbled and appreciative that these three communities continue to see tremendous value in hosting our prestigious state tournaments. The IHSA has longstanding ties to all three communities through several State Final Tournaments, including America’s Original March Madness.

      “We know that there are great people behind each, who would put on first-class experience for student-athletes, coaches and fans alike. Our goal is to review the bids and make site visits in the coming months, followed by a recommendation to our Board of Directors to vote at their meeting on April 21, 2020.”

     To use a basketball analogy, the Champaign-Urbana tourism bureau, in conjunction with the University of Illinois Department of Intercollegiate Athletics, put a full court press on the IHSA with their bid that included the financial investment from, not only the twin cities of Champaign and Urbana, but the neighboring communities as well which we cited in an earlier column. Don’t be surprised if the boys tournaments move to the State Farm Center for the three year period, starting in March 2021.

(More to this story in “Irish Stew” on page 10 of this week’s print and online editions.)

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