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ISU to again host high school football state title games

Fans at Hancock Stadium
WGLT file photo

Illinois high school football state title games will come back to Bloomington-Normal in 2023.

The Illinois High School Association (IHSA) board on Wednesday approved a four-year contract with Illinois State University and the Bloomington-Normal Area Convention and Visitors Bureau starting next year. Northern and Southern Illinois universities and the University of Illinois also submitted bids.

Convention and Visitors Bureau Director Crystal Howard said she's delighted with the development that will have a significant economic impact. ISU hosted high school state title games from 1974 to 1998. In recent years, they have rotated between DeKalb and Champaign.

The football title games bring an annual estimated direct economic impact of over $2.15 million, according to the Convention and Visitors Bureau.

“We appreciate all of the hosting bids that we received for the IHSA Football State Finals,” said IHSA Executive Director Craig Anderson. “Seeing the passion that these university communities have for hosting the State Finals and the amazing stadiums that each campus offers didn’t make for an easy decision. Ultimately, the first-class facilities, amazing support from Illinois State University and the Bloomington-Normal communities, and the central location proved to be the biggest factors in returning to ISU for the next five years.”

Illinois State University Athletic Director Kyle Brennan said the $23 million renovation of Hancock Stadium and construction of an indoor practice facility will help ISU offer a "top notch" experience to playoff teams and fans.

"Illinois State University and Illinois State Athletics have long valued their great partnership with the IHSA and take pride in our duties hosting IHSA events at our facilities. It will be a pleasure for us to welcome the student-athletes, their families and spectators to campus," said Brennan.

Currently, ISU hosts the IHSA Girls Basketball and Girls Volleyball State Finals, while the IHSA Boys Golf, Dance, Cheerleading, Journalism, Scholastic Bowl, Dual Team Wrestling, and Girls Individual Wrestling State Finals also are all held in Bloomington-Normal.

More details are expected to be released during a news conference Thursday at ISU.

WGLT Senior Reporter Charlie Schlenker has spent more than three award-winning decades in radio. He lives in Normal with his family.
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