IHSA Boys Basketball State Tournament Returning To Champaign

Matthew Stevens

CHAMPAIGN, Ill. -- For the first time since 1995, the IHSA boys' basketball state tournament is returning to its original home of Champaign.

The IHSA Board of Directors voted in a Monday morning video conference call meeting to return the tournament to the basketball arena on University of Illinois campus, where it had resided for 76 years from 1919-95. Champaign won the bid for the boys basketball tournament over Peoria, which had hosted the event at the Civic Center since 1996.

“We are ecstatic to welcome the IHSA boys' state basketball tournament back to its original home at the University of Illinois,” Jayne DeLuce, president and CEO of Visit Champaign County, said in a media release statement. “Our community has evolved into a much broader vision incorporating sports, education, technology and a place of diverse culture that will provide incredible experiences for all involved. We are ready to embrace a new tradition of welcoming teams, families, fans, officials and media for the experience of a lifetime.”

The national anthem is preformed prior to the first half before a game between the Illinois Fighting Illini and the Maryland Terrapins at State Farm Center.
The national anthem is preformed prior to the first half before a game between the Illinois Fighting Illini and the Maryland Terrapins at State Farm Center.Patrick Gorski/USA TODAY Sports

State Farm Center, the home of the Illini basketball programs, will be the site for Class 1A, 2A, 3A and 4A state boys basketball tournaments in 2021-23. 

“We see this as the passing of the torch from Peoria to Champaign-Urbana," IHSA executive director Craig Anderson said in a media statement. "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.”

All state tournament games involving the four classes in 2021 are slated to finish in one single weekend on March 11-13.

"Some of the greatest players ever to wear the orange and blue first competed on our campus as part of the IHSA state tournament. We are pleased to welcome the finals back to the University of Illinois, where dreams will come true for the countless players across the state who spend their childhood imagining playing on the court at State Farm Center. There is nothing like the thrill of competing for a state championship and the impact it has on high school teams and in their communities, and I'm excited that will once again happen here in Champaign."

While the State Farm Center has hosted exempt high school games since losing the bid of the state finals to Peoria, bringing the event referred to as Illinois’ March Madness back to Champaign would be seen as a major recruiting win for the Illini men’s basketball program.

"Whenever I discuss Fighting Illini Basketball, I always mention the proud history of this program," Illinois men's basketball head coach Brad Underwood said in a media statement. "Much of that success comes from the rich tradition of high school basketball in this state. Some of the greatest players ever to wear the orange and blue first competed on our campus as part of the IHSA state tournament. We are pleased to welcome the finals back to the University of Illinois, where dreams will come true for the countless players across the state who spend their childhood imagining playing on the court at State Farm Center. There is nothing like the thrill of competing for a state championship and the impact it has on high school teams and in their communities, and I'm excited that will once again happen here in Champaign."

“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 athletics director Josh Whitman said in a statement. “We are grateful to the IHSA and its leadership for choosing State Farm Center and Champaign-Urbana to host the state finals. We are humbled by their confidence in our community, which I know will come together to provide the players, families and fans of the state’s best teams a once-in-a-lifetime experience."

Illinois State University’s Redbird Arena will continue to be the host of the girls’ state tournament finals. The IHSA girls state tournament has been held at ISU’s Redbird Arena since 1992 after being at Champaign’s Assembly Hall from 1978. 

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