The Illinois boys basketball state tournaments are moving further east next season.
For the first time in 25 years, the boys state championships will not be played in Peoria. The Illinois High School Association announced Monday the 2021 Class 1A-4A semifinals, third-place and championship games will be played in Champaign-Urbana.
The IHSA board of directors approved the University of Illinois' State Farm Center as the host site as part of a three-year contract. The state tournament was previously held in Champaign-Urbana from 1919 to 1995.
The Peoria Civic Center also submitted a bid to continue hosting. The State Farm Center, home of the IHSA individual wrestling state championships since 1973, is coming off a $170 million renovation completed in 2016.
“We want the state final experience to feel like the Super Bowl of every IHSA sport and activity,” IHSA Executive Director Craig Anderson said in a statement. “We feel very very lucky that these amazing communities are interested in supporting our high schools while putting forth the time and resources necessary to make sure the students, coaches, fans and officials enjoy a first-class experience. We are truly appreciative of everyone that submitted a bid to host and look forward to working with all of them moving forward.”
In addition to the new venue, all four tournaments, which were previously held over two weekends with Classes 1A and 2A competing a week before Classes 3A and 4A, will take place during the same three days. All four classes will crown champions on Saturday, March 13, 2021.
"I remember the old Assembly Hall being packed and seeing some of the greatest players in the high school ranks come to Champaign," Illinois men's basketball coach Brad Underwood said. "I'm excited about the memories that young people will have. I'm excited about the camaraderie for people to come to our campus. So much has changed since last time it was here. I couldn't be more elated for our community, the IHSA and the student-athletes who will get to play in the State Farm Center."
Next season's state semifinals will begin on Thursday, March 11. The 2022 games will take place from March 10-12 and the 2023 tournament runs March 9-11.
"We see this as the passing of the torch from Peoria to Champaign-Urbana,” Anderson said. “It is bittersweet because there is an incredible passion for high school basketball within these two communities, and both have done so much to elevate the state's 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.”
Madison (1A) and Mater Dei (2A) advanced to the semifinal round in March before IHSA canceled the remainder of the season due to the coronavirus pandemic. East St. Louis (3A) and Collinsville (4A) were still alive in sectional finals when the season came to a halt.
The IHSA also announced the girls basketball state tournaments will remain at Redbird Arena on the campus of Illinois State University in Bloomington-Normal for the next three seasons. ISU has been the home of the girls state tournaments since 1992 and has hosted the girls volleyball state tournaments since 1990.
“We are excited to continue to serve as the host for the IHSA girls basketball state championships,” ISU director of athletics Larry Lyons said in a statement. “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 to 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.”
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