In a somewhat surprising decision, the Illinois High School Association announced on Saturday afternoon that the Men's Basketball State Championships will remain in Peoria for the next five years. The committee unanimously selected Peoria's Carver Arena, where the tournament has been held for the past 20 years, over bids from Champaign's State Farm Center and Hoffman Estates' Sears Centre.
"We have built strong traditions in Normal and Peoria. There is incredible support from the venues, communities and volunteers for both of these tournaments. We were grateful to have excellent alternatives, but it was clear to our Board that remaining at Redbird Arena and Carver Arena were the best options for the IHSA and its member schools."
~ Dan Klett, IHSA Board President
The Champaign-Urbana community, along with the University of Illinois, made a strong push to reclaim the tournament, but it obviously wasn't enough. In an interview before the decision was announced, Jayne DeLuce, CEO of Visit Champaign County, said that the bid primarily focused on the newly renovated State Farm Center and a "new level of community involvement that didn't exist when Champaign lost the state tournament to Peoria in 1995."
So will this decision have any impact on Illinois Basketball? Not really. Fans argue that playing at the State Farm Center would 'become a goal' for potential recruits during their high school careers, but let's be honest--college decisions aren't based on where the State Tournament is held. The only tangible benefit it would've provided is decreased travel costs; the best teams, and presumably players, would be coming to the coaching staff's back yard every year.
Champaign-Urbana will undoubtedly submit another bid to the IHSA in five years, but they'll need to step up their efforts in order to have any hope of seeing the tournament return.