The Board tabbed U.S. Cellular Coliseum in Bloomington to host the inaugural IHSA Competitive Dance State Finals, while DeKalb and Northern Illinois University's Huskie Stadium will host the IHSA's eight Football State Championship games in odds years beginning in 2013.
Both winning bids encompass five-year hosting terms. U.S. Cellular Coliseum will host the first-ever IHSA Competitive Dance State Finals in January and continue to host the event in 2014, 2015, 2016 and 2017. U.S. Cellular Coliseum has also hosted the IHSA Competitive Cheerleading State Finals since 2007, the second year of the event.
The IHSA's eight football title games will be held in DeKalb on Thanksgiving weekend in 2013, 2015, 2017, 2019 and 2021. The games will remain at the University of Illinois' Memorial Stadium in Champaign in even years (2012, 2014, 2016, 2018, 2020). The schedule variation was necessitated by a change in the Big Ten Conference football schedule that will have the University of Illinois playing home games on the IHSA state final weekend in odd years.
Huskie Stadium becomes the fourth-ever host site for the state football title games. Illinois State University hosted the games from their inception in 1974 until 1998 and the University of Illinois has been the championship home since 1999. From 1981-1984, Northwestern University hosted the two largest class games (5A & 6A), while the 1A-4A games were played at ISU.
Hickman pointed out a unique portion of Northern Illinois University's football bid that caught the attention of the IHSA staff and Board.
"Athletic Directors from over 100 IHSA member schools signed the bid, pledging their support for playing the games in DeKalb," said Hickman. "Schools from as far away as Galva, Peoria Richwoods and Zion-Benton, places you don't necessarily associate with DeKalb. It went a long way to showing us how much it meant to the entire region to have the state championships played there. Ultimately, all three football bids were extremely strong and almost interchangeable."
Other bids in football included Southern Illinois University in Carbondale and Illinois State University in Normal, while Dance bids were also submitted by Rockford's BMO Harris Bank Center, Moline's iWireless Center, Springfield's Prairie Capital Convention Center and the Sears Centre Arena in Hoffman Estates.
"This is a great day for our university, the DeKalb-Sycamore community and our entire Northern Illinois region," said NIU Associate Vice President and Director of Athletics Jeff Compher. "I would like to thank everyone that contributed to bringing the IHSA football playoffs to Northern Illinois University.
"I would especially like to thank the Northern Illinois University staff, Debbie Armstrong of the DeKalb Area Convention & Visitors Bureau and DeKalb High School Athletics Director Dan Jones for their efforts. We are very excited to be hosting this event and look forward to exposing high school students to our incredible facilities and outstanding community."
"It has long been the desire of our community to host the IHSA Football Championships," said NIU President John G. Peters. "We are extremely excited about today's news and look forward to the opportunity to showcase all that DeKalb and the NIU community has to offer to high school football teams and fans from across the state."
Compher and John Gordon, the director of the Convocation Center, which manages Huskie Stadium, led a joint campus-community steering committee to bring the state playoffs to DeKalb.
"I'm excited, I'm elated," Gordon said. "I think it's wonderful for NIU, our community, our county and this Northern Illinois region. It makes a lot of sense to be here. I think we can put on a great show and a great event for IHSA and all the fans that come out."
Huskie Stadium, which boasts a seating capacity of 24,000, will be the site for the eight classes of the state football playoffs. With its FieldTurf playing surface, the state-of-the-art Yordon Center and the soon to be constructed Chessick Practice Center, Huskie Stadium is an excellent venue for football.
Northern Illinois University head football coach Dave Doeren expressed his gratitude to the IHSA for awarding the state championships to NIU and the city of DeKalb.
"I would like to thank the IHSA for bringing the state championship games to DeKalb and to Northern Illinois University," said Doeren. "We're really honored and privileged to not only have the opportunity to host the games but to be able to showcase our facilities. We think, for the next five events that take place here, people are going to want to come back. We can't wait to show them why NIU is such a special place."