BLOOMINGTON – The Illinois High School Association (IHSA) announced on June 15 that the IHSA Boys’ Basketball State Finals, known to fans throughout the Land of Lincoln as America’s Original March Madness, will return to the campus of the University of Illinois in Champaign-Urbana beginning with the 2021 state tournament. The event was previously held in Champaign-Urbana from 1919 to 1995. The Peoria Civic Center, which has hosted the boys state tournament since 1996, also submitted a bid to continuing hosting.
“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.”
The state final hosting bid was a joint proposal from the University of Illinois, the Fighting Illini Athletic Department, State Farm Center, Visit Champaign County, and the Champaign-Urbana communities. The proposal is a three-year bid encompassing the 2021 (March 11-13), 2022 (March 10-12) and 2023 (March 9-11) state tournaments.
“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,” said Illinois Director of Athletics Josh Whitman. “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. My thanks to the many people and organizations locally who collaborated on a compelling bid and proposal. We look forward to showcasing the state’s flagship university, celebrating the many virtues of Champaign-Urbana, and maximizing the full spectrum of amenities in State Farm Center to visitors from all across Illinois. The relationship between the IHSA and the University of Illinois extends back more than 100 years, and we are excited to continue this longstanding, positive partnership many years into the future.”
The State Tournament has recently been held over the course of two weekends, but will begin a new format in 2021 that features all four classes being played over the course of three days, culminating with four state championships games on Saturday.
The IHSA Girls’ Basketball state finals will remain at Redbird Arena on the campus of Illinois State University (ISU) in Bloomington-Normal for the next three seasons.